USC protests unfolded as valedictorian’s speech on Israel is canceled due to safety worries

A few days after the University of Southern California (USC) declared that it would cancel the valedictorian speech and all outside speakers during this year’s commencement festivities, demonstrators gathered on the campus on Sunday to support the students.

Following a string of social media statements Asna Tabassum made regarding Israel, USC declared it would not be permitting the biomedical engineering major to deliver her valedictorian speech during the main stage commencement, which draws 65,000 people to the University Park Campus.

USC protests unfolded as valedictorian's speech on Israel is canceled due to safety worries

“Given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program, university leadership has decided it is best to release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year’s ceremony,” the commencement website said.

Critics dubbed Tabassum’s social media posts antisemitic since they purportedly demanded the dissolution of the Jewish State. USC valedictorian defended her stance in a CNN interview.

To be clear, the end of an apartheid regime is what I mean by the end of the state of Israel. Palestinians are essentially subjugated by this system, which is dehumanizing. “And it devalues Palestinian life as less valuable than that of other human life,” she added.

USC protests unfolded as valedictorian's speech on Israel is canceled due to safety worries

Outraged by USC’s decision, “CODEPINK” staged a protest to urge that Tabassum be allowed to speak. “We stood in solidarity with Asna Tabassum, the silent 2024 valedictorian since the LA Times Festival of Books was held at USC this year! How embarrassing for USC! Restore Asna’s speech, the organization wrote on X.

CODEPINK is a feminist grassroots movement that works to support peace and human rights efforts, abolish U.S. war and imperialism, and reroute funds into healthcare, education, green jobs, and other life-affirming activities, according to its website.

The organization is preparing its next move, according to a group spokesman who spoke with Fox News Digital after all of the graduation speakers were canceled.

“Our expectations are that a young Muslim woman’s voice will not be muffled and stifled. That is shameful of USC,” the group claimed.

USC protests unfolded as valedictorian's speech on Israel is canceled due to safety worries

USC claims Tabassum and other attendees’ safety is the reason the valedictorian is being silenced, not her political opinions on the continuous turmoil in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.

“Our student valedictorian will not be making a speech at commencement, we have decided after much thought. While this is unfortunate, safety must come before tradition, said Andrew Guzman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

Guzman said that the choice had to be made to keep the school and its pupils safe.

“Let me be quite clear: speech freedom is unrelated to this choice. Speaking during a commencement is not covered by free speech rights. How best to preserve campus security and safety, period is the problem here, Guzman said.

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