People may be finally waking up to, and opposing, the radical element of Islam. Let us hope that it has staying power.
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Jurors found 10 Muslim students guilty Friday of disrupting a lecture by the Israeli ambassador at a California university in a case that stoked a spirited debate about free speech.
Jurors delivered the verdicts in Orange County Superior Court in the case involving a speech by Ambassador Michael Oren in February 2010 at the University of California, Irvine.
The students were also convicted of conspiring to disrupt Oren’s speech.
The students were charged with misdemeanor counts after standing up, one by one, and shouting prepared statements at Oren such as “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech.”
Prosecutors say the students broke the law by interrupting Oren’s speech on U.S.-Israel relations and cutting short the program, despite calls to behave from campus officials. Defense attorneys argued the students had a right to protest.
Nearly 200 people packed the courtroom to hear closing arguments at the trial that some community members called a waste of taxpayers’ money and an effort to single out the defendants because they are Muslim.
Prosecutor Dan Wagner told jurors the students acted as censors to block the free flow of ideas and infringed upon the rights of 700 people who had gone to the Irvine campus to hear Oren.
Wagner showed video footage of university officials pleading with students to behave but said they kept interrupting the lecture. Wagner also showed emails sent among members of UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union planning the disruption and calculating who was willing to get arrested.