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USC Cancels Muslim Valedictorian’s Speech Who Advocated for Eradication of Israel

Asna Tabassum, a Muslim student selected as valedictorian at the University of Southern California (USC), had her commencement speech canceled due to security concerns. 

This decision has ignited significant debate and disappointment among students.

The announcement that Tabassum would be valedictorian initially filled many USC students with pride, particularly within the Muslim community. 

Students like Abdullah Khlefat felt that this recognition was a sign of inclusivity and visibility for their community on campus.

USC Provost Andrew Guzman announced the cancellation of Tabassum’s speech, citing escalating security risks influenced by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the resultant heated discussions on social media.

Credits: DepositPhotos

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First-year student Danica Gonzalez criticized the university’s decision, suggesting that using security concerns as a pretext was unfounded, especially considering the high-profile security managed during past significant events such as commencements attended by the Obamas.

Following her selection, Tabassum faced backlash over her previous social media posts, which some student groups labeled as antisemitic. 

These groups, including Trojans for Israel, questioned whether her views were appropriate for a valedictory representative.

They pointed out her social media profile, which linked to a presentation talking about the Palestine issue.

In it, there was a call for “one Palestinian state,” which “would mean Palestinian liberation, and the complete abolishment of the state of Israel.” 

Jewish groups pointed out that this was patently “antisemitic.”

Credits: DepositPhotos

Brandon Tavakoli, president of Trojans for Israel, had this to say about the university’s choice of Tabassum as valedictorian: “The university has to make the decision about whether this valedictorian and her propagation of antisemitic vitriol online is worthy of being the representative of the class of 2024.”

USC did not detail the specific threats that led to the cancellation, nor did they confirm if Tabassum was directly informed about these concerns. 

The university’s decision was framed as a precaution to ensure the safety and inclusivity of the graduation ceremony.

“The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement,” read the university’s announcement, in part.

Credits: DepositPhotos

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This incident at USC is part of a larger pattern of rising tensions on college campuses across the U.S., especially regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

These tensions have sometimes resulted in confrontational incidents and protests.

The USC student community remains divided, with some supporting the decision for the sake of security, while others, including Tabassum’s supporters, see it as a suppression of free speech and a failure to uphold academic values of diversity and inclusion.

Credits: DepositPhotos

Tabassum expressed her disappointment, viewing the university’s decision as a capitulation to anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiments, overshadowing what should have been a celebratory academic achievement.

The controversy continues to affect campus dynamics at USC, reflecting broader societal debates about free speech, security, and academic freedom in politically charged times. 

The university’s challenge now lies in navigating these complexities while maintaining a safe and supportive environment for all students.

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!