The Orange County District Attorney’s office has filed charges against 11 Muslim students who interrupted the Israeli ambassador to the United States during a speech last year at UC Irvine.
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren visited the UCI campus under the sponsorship of a several university groups.
Orange County’s district attorney says 11 Muslim students conspired to disrupt the ambassador’s speech by shouting out that he was a war criminal and a mass murderer.
Campus police arrested the students and later released them. Now they face misdemeanor charges that could land them in jail for up to six months if convicted.
The students say the district attorney has unfairly targeted them, and that the university’s already dealt with the matter.
But District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says the students tried to rob Oren of his constitutional right to free speech. Rackauckas adds that failing to bring charges would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution.
Various religious and community leaders sent a letter to Rackauckas a few months ago, asking him to drop the investigation and allow UCI administrators to deal with the matter.
UCI suspended the campus' Muslim Student Association for an academic quarter because of the incident. That group was reinstated on campus last month.