Approximately 50 UC Irvine students rallied on Ring Road near the Student Center on March 10 to support the Muslim community in response to a Yorba Linda protest condemning Muslims to “go home” which went viral through a video titled, “Hate Comes to OC.”
The protesting students formed an open circle holding posters that read, “Today I am Muslim too” and chanting, “Join us against hate” and “Stand in Solidarity.” A few UCI police officers surrounded the protesters throughout the event.
Every few minutes, the circle gathered into a crowd and voices spoke up.
“Islamophobia isn’t something new; it didn’t start with Muslims and it won’t end with Muslims,” Muslim Student Union president, Asaad Traina said.
The rally was not organized by MSU but by student activists at the rally including Tracy Ishigo and Rashmi Guttal, both second-years.
“If this is happening in Orange County then we need to make sure that the representatives that spoke at the Yorba Linda rally realize that they are our constituents. As students, we have a say and they need to be held accountable for all of their actions,” Guttal continued.
A diverse group of people attended the event, not only from UCI, but from the community at large.
“It’s not about what community you’re from, we should all stand in solidarity with each other and coexist,” Guttal said.
Dana Moss, a graduate sociology major, spoke, saying, “As a white person in this country, those people in Yorba Linda do not speak for me.”
“What happened in Yorba Linda was not about politics, it was about the inability to see human beings as human beings,” community member Lee Weissman said.
The rally did not represent one instance of Islamophobia, but rather multiple events such as Representative Pete King’s hearing on Muslim-American radicalization and, more locally, the Irvine 11’s charges with the Orange County District Attorney’s office of disturbance of a meeting and conspiracy to disrupt a meeting.
According to defending lawyer Reem Salahi, the Irvine 11’s court arraignment which was held March 11 requested postponement until April 11 due to filing of two separate motions which the group feels taints their case.
The first motion is to disqualify the OCDA from the case on the basis that the OCDA labeled the case a “UCI Muslim case” which implies prejudicial intent and raises questions as to whether or not the case was filed over the alleged action or the 11 students’ identity.
The second motion is to present evidence that the OCDA illegally obtained evidence against the 11 students, under the presumption and assertion of a felony crime when the charges are two misdemeanors. They hope to move the case from the OCDA to the attorney general.
Salahi explained that the felony being investigated was never stated and allowed the OCDA to investigate with a much broader reach. Salahi said the DA obtained emails and confidential administrative records secretly without notifying the defendants.
“I do think that there is clearly a bias against Muslims, and I would not be shocked or surprised if it had everything to do with Islamophobia,” Salahi said.