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Sanctions shortened for Muslim student group

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A Muslim student group at the University of California, Irvine, had a yearlong suspension shortened to four months.

The Muslim Student Union (MSU) on the Irvine campus will be barred from operating this fall semester, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported.

The university had recommended a yearlong suspension in May in response to the group’s orchestrated heckling of Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren during his address to the university last February. Oren walked off the stage twice, unable to continue because of the disruption.

Local Jewish groups applauded the sanctions, but said they were disappointed with last week’s decision by the university to shorten the suspension period.

The Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, which released a report in 2008 claiming ongoing harassment of Jewish students at UC Irvine, issued a statement of concern that the suspension would not improve the atmosphere for Jewish students on the campus.

According to the sanctions, imposed for violations of the university’s code of conduct, the student group may not use university facilities this fall, recruit new members or raise money. Members must complete 100 hours of community service, and the group will be on probation for two years beginning Jan. 3.

Eleven students were arrested by campus police for the heckling of Oren. Eight were from UC Irvine, including the MSU president. All were released.

The MSU’s incoming vice president called the suspension “a form of collective punishment,” the Jewish Journal reported.

The Muslim student group defended its heckling of Oren as protected free speech. The university disagreed, ruling that the disruption deprived Oren of his own right to free speech.

 

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