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.