US: Charges against Muslims ignite free speech debate

When administrators at the University of California, Irvine, decided to suspend the Muslim Student Union for a quarter over the disruption of a speech last year by the Israeli ambassador to the US, most thought the latest controversy on campus had ended. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of Orange County, however, disagreed - and filed misdemeanor criminal charges last week against the 11 student protesters, accusing them of disturbing a public meeting and engaging in a conspiracy to do so, reports The New York Times.

The charges have not only reignited campus debate about the event but have also prompted a feisty argument about the role of free speech on a college campus, in this case one whose politics can seem as complicated as peace negotiations in the Middle East.

Over the last decade, the university has become a symbol of what some Jewish groups say is a growing anti-Israel sentiment on campuses. But for others, the school is quickly becoming a symbol of problems Muslim students face when they are viewed as too outspoken.
Full report on the New York Times site