Osama Shabaik. (Photo: OC Weekly)
Several weeks ago, TEDxUC Irvine organizers asked Irvine 11 protester Osama Shabaik to speak at a March 3rd event. The TEDx speaker series is an offshoot of the popular TED talks, whose mission is to create a "community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world."
Unfortunately the UC Irvine organizers decided to impede a "free exchange of ideas" when they asked Shabaik on February 18 to step down as a speaker. The only stated reason was that Shabaik's speech was "not in line" with what a TED talk was "supposed" to be.
Two years ago, Shabaik and 10 other students were arrested on the UC Irvine campus after peacefully protesting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's University-sponsored speech. Shabaik had been asked by TEDx organizers to speak about this very subject-- but later told the content was inappropriate.
The good news is that TEDx organizers have received more than 600 emails of complaint, demanding that Shabaik be reinstated as a speaker, and they have said they will reconsider their decision.