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CAIR-LA Applauds USC Advisory Committee on Muslim Life Resignations in Support of Muslim Valedictorian Asna Tabassum –

The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today applauded the decision by members of University of Southern California (USC)’s Advisory Committee on Muslim Life (ACML) to resign from their positions in solidarity with Class of 2024 Muslim valedictorian Asna Tabassum. USC officials recently told Tabassum she would not be allowed to speak during the commencement ceremony in May. 

Members of ACML sent a letter to USC President Carol Folt rejecting the university’s decision last week to cancel Tabassum’s speech after she began receiving a wave of hate online for supporting Palestine. on Monday, April 15, announcing that Tabassum would not be allowed to speak at the school’s upcoming commencement ceremony in the interest of maintaining the “safety of our campus and students” due to the volume of security threats and harassment from pro-Israel groups.

The group demanded that President Folt reinstate Tabassum’s speech at the commencement by Friday, April 19, or the committee members would resign.

In the resignation announcement, ACML members said:

We, the members of the committee, were under the impression that the administration was committed to stand against Islamophobia and the bigotry that Muslims and marginalized students face on campus every day. However, the decision to cancel this year’s valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, the first Muslim hijabi woman ever to receive such an honor, from speaking at commencement is completely contradictory to what this committee was promised. 

“In barring Asna’s valedictorian speech Muslims on campus have received a clear message: their University will not stand by them if they merely seem likely to speak out against genocide, let alone standing by Palestinians who are undergoing a genocide.” 

In a statement, Amr Shabaik, CAIR-LA Legal Director and member of ACML said:

“As an alumnus of USC and a member of ACML, I am ashamed and disturbed by USC’s decision to cancel Asna’s speech. Asna represents the best of the Muslim American community and is clearly a qualified valedictorian.  

“USC’s decision to silence her sends a clear chilling message that it will not take steps to protect its Muslim, Palestinian, and Arab students when they are faced with harassment and intimidation, and that USC’s purported ideals and values do not equally apply to those students. There is still time for USC to do the right thing and reinstate Asna as the commencement speaker immediately.”

ACML was formed in Spring 2023 at the request of USC administration to “consider a number of tangible solutions to support Muslim students, faculty and staff, and ensure USC remains a destination university for the Muslim community.”

to take a stand against anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate on its campus and to ensure a safe environment for all its students.

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Digital Communications Manager Enjy El-Kadi, (714) 851-4851, [email protected]; CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Madi Morse-Hameed, [email protected]