1. admin@thebangladesh.news : The Bangladesh :
June 14, 2024, 4:44 am

Student protests motivated solely by shared humanitarian values

  • Update Time : Tuesday, May 14, 2024
  • 15 Time View

Yuram Abdullah Weiler also tells the Tehran Times that “any criticism of the Israeli government or its genocidal policies is now equated to anti-Semitism.”


Following is the text of the interview:


Q: Aren’t the crackdown and arrest of students at American universities by police a violation of the right to protest and freedom of opinion?


A: Due to the complexities of the American legal system, a simple yes or no answer is impossible. Technically, protests and freedom of speech should fall under the protection of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. constitution, which prohibits Congress from making a law abridging freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.


According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), people have the right to speak out from so-called “traditional public platforms,” such as parks, sidewalks, streets and other public places. However, if a protest involves a march or a parade that will be crossing streets or otherwise obstructing traffic, a permit may be required. Officials cannot deny a permit for a protest merely because it concerns something unpopular or controversial.


Police may not break up a protest unless there is a danger of a riot, interference to traffic or other threat to public safety. If police intend to break up a protest, they must give advance notice, giving protesters sufficient time to comply, as well as indicate the exit path, and consequences for failure to comply before arresting anyone.Then in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the court reversed itself and ruled “that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”


The crackdown on pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Texas at Austin occurred after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had ordered public universities to revise their freedom of speech policies, targeting pro-Palestinian groups. According to a 2019 Texas law, all common outdoor areas of public universities are “traditional public platforms,” so the students protesting were clearly within their protected First Amendment rights. The harsh crackdown with 54 arrests at the UT Austin event were in line with the desires of Abbott’s chief backer, ultra-right-wing billionaire Jeff Yass, a major supporter of right-wing Israeli think tanks including the influential Kohelet Forum.


The Supreme Court appears to be returning to the doctrine of legislative discretion by state governments, as evidenced by a recent case involving a Black Lives Matters protest leader, who is being sued by a Louisiana police officer. The effect of the case will be to stifle protest, since now the court has set a precedent to allow protest leaders to be sued for the acts of protesters, even if there is no incitement of violence on the part of the leader.


Q: Do you agree with this view that the United States is manifesting a double standard approach in this regard?


A: The double standard in the U.S. is quite striking: any criticism of the Israeli government or its genocidal policies is now equated to anti-Semitism. Speaking out against the Zionist regime, or joining the BDS movement, puts one at risk of job loss, censure and even arrest and prosecution. The U.S. House of Representatives has even gone so far as to pass a resolution, H.Res.883, which condemns the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as anti-Semitic. Yet according to the supreme court ruling in Texas v. Johnson (1989), burning an American flag is “symbolic speech” protected under the First Amendment.


Looking at the pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University, the students were peacefully encamped on a large, grassy area when university president Nemat Minouche Shafik, who had been interrogated by pro-Zionist Republican lawmakers under the pretext of investigating the anti-Semitic character of the protests, called in the New York State police to clear the protesters. The Republicans had accused Shafik of not adequately protecting Jewish students on campus. Among the students suspended for merely participating in the event was Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar. For his part, Biden condemned the protests as acts of blatant anti-Semitism, while House speaker Mike Johnson demanded the protesters “go back to class and stop the nonsense.”


In another incident, the University of Southern California cancelled the traditional valedictorian address at graduation, denying Muslim bioengineering student Asna Tabassum her chance to speak. The reason given by the university was concern over safety and security risks at the ceremony. Certainly, USC had the resources to provide whatever additional security measures it may have deemed necessary to assure safety for Tabassum, but acquiesced to Zionist pressure and cancelled the speech she was to have given before an anticipated audience of 65,000 people.

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