(SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 10/29/14) — The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) tonight expressed disappointment at the decision of the UC Berkeley administration to override the rescission of an invitation to Bill Maher by the student group that selects speakers for the university's commencement ceremonies.
The original invitation to Maher had sparked controversy and calls for him to be dropped as a speaker because of his history of bigoted comments.
In a statement issued earlier today, the university said in part:
“For many years it has been the responsibility of UC Berkeley undergraduates, through a committee known as the 'Californians,' to select speakers for the university's commencement ceremonies. In August the 'Californians” chose Bill Maher as the speaker for the December commencement ceremony. However, last night the 'Californians' reconvened without administration participation and came to a decision that the invitation should be rescinded. The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision.”
“We are disappointed by the university's decision to disrespect students by casting aside the long-standing process for selecting commencement speakers and instead imposing its own will,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo. “While Mr. Maher has the right to speak whenever and wherever he likes, he does not have the right to have his hate-filled views honored and tacitly endorsed by a prestigious university.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.
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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626-252-0885, email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org