ANAHEIM (AP) — More than 200 people rallied Saturday in support of 11 Muslim students facing criminal charges for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador at the University of California, Irvine.

Supporters of the so-called “Irvine 11” packed a meeting room at the Islamic Institute of Orange County, arguing that the students were exercising their free-speech rights and should be protected, the Orange County Register reported Sunday.

The 11 students, some of whom belonged to the Muslim Student Union, were arrested Feb. 8, 2010, after shouting and protesting during a speech on U.S.-Israeli security by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. The disruption forced him to stop his remarks for about 20 minutes.

They are scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of disturbing an assembly and conspiring to disturb an assembly.

The Register said speakers Saturday questioned whether the students would have been prosecuted if they weren’t Muslim, but said the case raises concerns beyond religion.

“The reality is that protest and expressing dissent makes up the very fabric of American democracy,” said attorney Reem Salahi, who is helping to defend the 11 students.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has said the students broke the law and would be prosecuted regardless of their religion or any other affiliation. The 11 students “meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing (the ambassador’s) ideas,” he said when he filed the charges in February.

Speakers at Saturday’s meeting vowed to hold future demonstrations in support of the students. They plan to gather outside the courthouse Friday, dressed in black, with tape over their mouths.

The university revoked the Muslim Student Union’s charter for one year and placed it on probation for another year after doing its own investigation. In September, the school softened the sanctions by restoring the group’s charter effective Dec. 31, but it added a year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Officials with the university have said the school completed its disciplinary process and has no connection to the district attorney’s investigation.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (29)
  1. Against islam forever says:

    muslims should leave this country their religion only promotes voilence and instability. Ban islam in America end of story, don’t like it, leave the country. We’ll see you running back/

    1. Slavco says:

      America banning a religion? A bit if an oxymoron, no? Don’t you have a Klan rally to go to?

    2. Steve says:

      You’re an uneducated, misinformed idiot. Are you native American? If not, why don’t you get out of here too? Like Slavco said, go back to your hick Klan meeting so you and your inbred friends can hang out in a circle jerk.

    3. marcos says:

      I agree but can we also ban christianity?

  2. Jeff says:

    Your solution to fighting terror is to ban Islam? Really, are you that much of a moron? I hate terrorists as much as the next guy. But, i hate idiotic ideologies such as yours just as much.

  3. Bonnie says:

    These students did this to be mean. They’re raised to hate Jews and Israel., and probably Christians too. That wasn’t “free speech”….it was done as an act of hate. Let them take their act back to their 3rd world countries., where it’s appreciated. By the way, woman cannot partake in protests in these Arab countries.

    1. Malia says:

      Actually, have you seen all of the uprising in Tunisia & Egypt? There were 1000’s of women protesting, right alongside the men…check your facts. Furthermore, Israel is not a saintly country, they have oppressed both Christian and Muslim Palestinians & even killed and American woman who protested the draconian aparthide actions of Israel.

  4. drozone69 says:

    why are American students biemg treated uncostutionally in favor of a foriegner?Why is this man and his country given preferential treatment?This man has nothinhg but contemt for this nations freedoms.Never have our founding fathers wanted American students voices of assembly be eradicated in favor of a foriegn politician.That right is not even acceptable for an American politician.People arent raised to hate,they discover that through facts.The facts are christians are bieng robbed of their land and brutalized by the most heavily armed Israely military and Mossad.People are awaking to the Israely lobbyist controlling Washington D.C.

  5. Jack T says:

    Heckling is not free speech. Particularly when done in order to prevent free speech. When the students at UC Irvine learn this, then education will be accomplished

  6. Bonnie says:

    Israel’s a democracy and the Arab nations are not. They hold their people dowm, and this in turn makes them angry. What have THEY done with the millions we’ve given them to better themselves ? It goes into weapons, and not to help their people. Arafat died and BILLIONS are missing. His wife is somewhere in Paris with the money our country gave him to make themselves better ! You people check your facts !

  7. JB says:

    Incite world peace,
    Nuke the entire Middle East.

  8. Paul says:

    they should have thrown a shoe at them , like they did @ Pres. Bush

  9. dgr says:

    Werent the students disrupting the original speaker’s right to free speech? I support the student’s right to their free speech and opinions. But there are laws against disrupting and causing a disturbance. My only question is would students of other ideologies be prosecuted or merely warned? If prosecuted, then these students should not be given any special treatment because of their religion. If warned, then these students should also not be treated differently. Their beliefs of the speaker AND the students should theoretically have no bearing on the prosecution for disturbing the assembly.

  10. blank stare says:

    OMG rednecks have finally gained access to the internet. Congrats, but i dont believe incest porn is a category that you can find easily.

  11. CV says:

    Lets do to the muslim protesters what would happen to them if they did the same thing in say, Iran!

  12. Joe B says:

    We can see that so called ‘Slavco’, ‘drozone69’ and Malia are from the same Muslim group of liars. We can see that they agenda are a jihad against Israel and American free speech. These Muslim group think only them can be heard and it is OK stop others to exercise the free speech by heckling. Jack T is correct: “Hackling is not free speech. Particularly when done in order to prevent free speech.” By the way, I am an American native and ex-Marine and I served my country to keep it free. Sharia laws and jihad, they have no place in America soil. America is free and Muslims countries are not. Check Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya… Christians, Jews, Buddhists are not permitted freedom of worship. Muslims should speak up against the Islamic terrorists and not try to interrupt free speech. Semper Fi.

    1. Not newsworthy says:

      Well said Joe God bless u for all your effort for this nation

  13. Jakuro says:

    Why did these muslim students disrupt this man’s free speech?
    If they didn’t like what he was saying they could have left the assembly.
    Why cater to these muslim students when we know what they really think of the US and Israel. Don’t fool yourselves for you are only an infidel to these muslims.

  14. T Lopez says:

    Well said Joe B. Those supporters should support America values and not a group of Muslims crying about their ‘free speech’ and not letting other to use theirs. They should go to jail to learn civility and citsenship.

  15. drozone69 says:

    This case will make it to the Supreme Court.At which point we have 33.3 percent controlled by hebrews loyal to Israel in that cabinet.How can they possibbly vote bipartisan?They have an obligation to support motherland,plain and simple.

    1. Not newsworthy says:

      Sounds like u get slapped around a lot by Jews hahahaha

    2. Bonnie says:

      You should do the honorable thing and boycott EVERYTHING Jewish ! Do not buy or use anything made or invented by a Jew ! No films, tv, medical tests, doctors, et al. Let’s see how far you get in life without Jewish people effecting or influencing your life……you’d die !

  16. college graduate says:

    so these students get arrested for distributing a speech, but the westboro Baptist church is allowed to protest dead soldiers funerals with big colorful signs that say things “thank GOD for dead soldiers”… weird.

    1. college graduate says:

      Sorry typo

      *say things like*

  17. peace for real says:

    Islamic extremeists are not just satisfied to get rid of our middle east allies, they want to take over this country, too. They should be expeled from this country.

  18. socalmal says:

    I saw Michael Oren’s speech on and on you tube. These students were nor allowing him to speak out of pure hatred. They are are racists that should be expelled. Follow the rules or suffer the consequences. I’m glad theyre not wasting any tax dollars to fund their Muslim studies while in jail, or are they?

  19. Open-minded says:

    College Graduate, THANK YOU! I was wondering if anyone would see the connection here and say anything. I am an American and a Christian. I make no apologies for that. But if a group of insensitive morons can viciously wage emotional attacks on grief-stricken families of AMERICAN soldiers, why can’t Muslim students also voice their opinions against FOREIGN political figures. Free speech is the same for all. The US Constitution makes no special exclusions. Every side/political group/religion has its share of extremists; it’s sad but true. Would these students be facing charges if they were not Muslim? It’s a good chance not. Are they “raised to hate” by their religions and families? Maybe some. Others learn it in reaction to their treatment from other backgrounds. America is supposed to be a nation of different cultures, religions, and TOLERANCE. We, as Americans in our own divisive little sects and cliques, have become as guilty of intolerance, hate,and extremism as those we call our enemies. And the saddest part of it is that we’re also too hypocritical and arrogant in our imagined superiority to see it for what it is.

    1. Not newsworthy says:

      Get ur facts straight they were rude and obnoxiously interrupting the free speech watch the video on YouTube

  20. slavetothemob says:

    Obama is very happy and is standing by, to pour some gas on this fire..
    The former united states now the nation of one, is conforming well, adjusting to the mass decapitations of infidels and the sexual mutilations of little girls.

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