Orange County Islamic leaders gathered in Anaheim over the weekend to show support for a group of college students facing criminal charges for interrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
The so-called Irvine 11, who protested a Feb. 10, 2010, appearance by Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine, are set to be arraigned Friday in Santa Ana on misdemeanor charges that they conspired to disrupt Oren's speech and then did so. Eight of the students attend UCI, and three attend UC Riverside.
The students "are passionate; they are caring and deeply believe in social justice," said Arif Shaikh, who moderated a Saturday night panel at the Islamic Institute of Orange County, where religious leaders and political activists called on Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas to drop the charges.
Prosecutors say they have evidence that the protesters conspired to disrupt Oren's speech and to hide evidence of the planning.
The students in attendance Saturday declined to comment, deferring questions to their attorney. They face up to six months in jail or probation if convicted.