UCI CAMPUS — A national Islamic leader criticized America's support of Israel in a fiery speech on campus Monday but stressed that opposition to the Israeli government did not equal anti-Semitism.
Imam Muhammad al-Asi, the leader of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., launched the Muslim Student Union's annual week of seminars, "Israel: Apartheid Resurrected," with a speech by the campus administration building. Addressing a crowd of about 100 students and frequently shouting into the microphone, al-Asi condemned both Israel's treatment of Palestine and the United States' support for its top ally in the region.
The strife between Israel and Palestine has led to conflict at UCI recently, with the federal government and Hillel Foundation of Orange County both investigating allegations of anti-Semitism on the campus. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter angered many earlier this month when he spoke about his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" in the Bren Events Center. Al-Asi, however, urged the crowd not to confuse racism with politics.