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Arizona State University on-campus event will continue despite lawsuit

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

PHOENIX — An event at Arizona State University featuring American Muslims for Palestine founder Dr. Hatem Bazian will continue despite a lawsuit that was filed against the university and two other parties for allegedly violating Muslim students’ free speech and equal protection rights.

University spokesman Bret Hovell said court documents showed that the standard outside speaker contract that was sent by the Muslim Students Association to American Muslims for Palestine and Bazian was outdated and that the parties were sent an updated form “which does not include any such anti-Israel-boycott prevision.”

The lawsuit was initially filed against Arizona State University, the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich earlier this month.

It claimed that American Muslims for Palestine and Bazian were barred from presenting at the campus event because they could not agree to a “No Boycott of Israel” clause that they argued was included in the university’s standard outside speaker contract. It was allegedly included because of a statute that banned the state from entering into contracts with anyone who advocates for boycotts of Israel.

Hovell said the court documents, which were filed on March 8 in opposition to a request from the American Muslims for Palestine and Bazian for an expedited hearing, also clarified that the parties were free to speak at the on-campus event on April 3.

“The sole impediment to plaintiffs speaking at the April 3 event has thus been removed,” the court documents read. “Because it is clear that plaintiffs will be permitted to speak without any injunctive relief issued by this court, there is no reason to schedule an expedited hearing.

“The ‘No Boycott of Israel’ clause in ASU’s standard speaker agreement is, to plaintiffs’ knowledge, the only institutional and legal roadblock to their participation in the scheduled April 3, 2018 event. It has, however, become perfectly clear that the act does not pose any such obstacle to Dr. Bazian and AMP speaking,” the documents continued.

But the Council on American–Islamic Relations declared victory in a statement Friday, saying its legal defense fund reached a court-approved agreement with all three parties.

In a statement, CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri said the organization was pleased with the agreement, but will continue to fight “until Arizona’s anti-BDS law is declared unconstitutional.”

Imraan Siddiqi, the executive director for CAIR’s Arizona chapter, said the agreement was “further evidence that the state law attempting to chill free speech was problematic from its onset and still needs to be addressed.”

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article has been updated to clarify the status of the lawsuit between Arizona State University and the Council on American–Islamic Relations.

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