(ANAHEIM, CA, 12/13/07) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed a report issued this week by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that cleared the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and a campus Muslim student group of anti-Semitism charges.
The Department of Education investigation was launched in 2004 following complaints from the Zionist Organization of America, an extremist pro-Israel organization with chapters in a dozen cities including Los Angeles. Right-wing bloggers and Zionist organizations have repeatedly accused UCI of being an anti-Semitic campus.
SEE: Office for Civil Rights Report on UCI and Muslim Students
SEE: Agency Says Lack of Evidence in Allegations by Jewish Students (OC Register)
In a statement, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said:
“We welcome the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation, which affirmed that UCI is a diverse and open campus that treats all students equally. We commend the UCI administrators, in particular the Chancellor Dr. Michael V. Drake, for creating an environment supportive of free speech and respect for all students at UCI.
We call on pro-Israel on- and off-campus groups to end the attempts at silencing legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians by falsely labeling it as anti-Semitic.”
The Department of Education report said: “OCR determined that although offensive to the Jewish students, the speeches, articles, marches, symbols and other events at issue were not based on the national origin of the Jewish students, but rather based on opposition to the policies of Israel.”
CAIR-LA encouraged the UCI students, of all religious and political backgrounds, to continue to respectfully engage in critical thinking and free speech.
“A college campus must continue to be a safe place for all students to learn, debate, dissent, and be politically active,” added Ayloush in his statement.
A statement issued by Chancellor Drake said the campus officials are “very gratified with the outcome and closure of this matter.”
“We are firmly committed to freedom of speech and open discourse, which are central to our missions of teaching, research and public service, and equally committed to maintaining a safe, non-threatening environment for all members of our campus community,” Drake added in his statement.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, (714) 776-1847, (714) 851-4851 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org