A panel of adjudicators in California is considering the limits of free speech as it deliberates in the trial of 10 Muslim students charged with disrupting a speech by an Israeli diplomat at the University of California, Irvine.
According to details, the panel – after receiving the case Tuesday afternoon – now has to decide whether the students broke the law or were exercising a right to demonstrate in a case that has stirred a spirited debate about free speech in Irvine, an affluent suburb south of Los Angeles.
Prosecutors are of the view the students are guilty since they carefully planned the protest during Ambassador Michael Oren’s February 2010 speech about US-Israel relations. They said the emails among members of the Muslim Student Union before the protest are more than enough to show these students were aware they could be arrested. They also argued the students acted as censors when they repeatedly shouted at Oren and infringed on the rights of 700 people who had gone to the campus that evening to hear him.
However, defense lawyers do not argument that the students planned to protest at the speech, and argued that the students acted within the law by doing what other demonstrators have done during campus lectures. Those people shouted at speakers but weren’t arrested or sanctioned, they said.