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Muslim Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine Hold ‘Palestine Day’ Rally

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The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UCI and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held Palestine Day as part of MSU’s annual Anti-Oppression Week on May 2.

MSU hosted its Anti-Oppression Week from May 1-5 to express self-determination and advocacy. The week’s events included Uighur Day on May 1, Palestine Day on May 2, Black Liberation Day on May 3 and Kashmir Day on May 4.

The event began with a rally at the Flagpoles, where the event’s informative display stood. The display — variations of which have been a staple of similar MSU events in the past — was painted with information central to the protester’s main demands. One portion of the display featured flag-painted fists with the words “Smash Amerikan Imperialism.” Other panels featured the word “Intifada” — a reference to the two major Palestinian uprisings against Israeli occupation — as well as the amount of U.S. military aid to Israel.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

Students walk by the display on Ring Road in front of the Langson Library.

Clad in keffiyehs and other traditional Middle Eastern clothing, protesters from numerous campus organizations standing in solidarity with SJP and MSU marched around campus. With well over 100 protesters, the group made their way around Ring Road, stopping at numerous locations along the way — including the Anteater Learning Pavillion (ALP), the Science Library, Donald Bren Hall and the Middle Earth Towers — before making their way back to Langson Library.

The protest, resembling recent campus movements such as the AFSCME rally in early April and the fall quarter UAW strike, could be heard from around campus. Chants such as “Free Free Palestine!” and “Settlers go back home, Palestine is ours alone!” could be heard as the protesters made their way through campus.

As in previous years, counterprotesters in white shirts holding Israeli flags stood by, following the student protesters around campus. While both protests were peaceful, shouting did occur between members of both sides on numerous occasions.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

A counterprotester shouts at student protesters as they march on Ring Road.

Members of the counterprotest group could not be reached for comment. Many appeared to be adults who were unaffiliated with the University. 

Students who participated in the protest spoke with the New University as it wound down.

Keilani, a member of Anakbayan at UCI who requested to be referred to by only their first name, spoke on how organizations other than SJP and MSU came to participate in the protest.

SJP and UCI student organizations Anakbayan and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán or Chicanx Student Movement of Aztlán (MEChA), are members of the UC Divest Coalition, a cross-campus coalition of organizations “demanding the end to UC profit from war,” according to the coalition’s Twitter account. Both organizations joined MSU and SJP for the Palestine Day protest.

“Anakbayan has worked really closely with SJP, even before we joined the UC Divest coalition,” Keilani said, stating that both organizations had a “shared analysis being against U.S. imperialism and its war mongering.”

“We really see our struggles as like, you know, the same struggles under U.S. militarization,” they added.

Photo by Moh Samhouri / Staff

A Palestinian flag is flown in front of the Langson Library.

The New University spoke with Ziena, a third-year SJP member who also requested to be referred to only by their first name.

“We’re just trying to bring the student movement on campus, to make them understand that they have so much power,” Ziena said. “With the power in their voices, as Palestinians are resisting on the ground, we are resisting abroad in the diaspora.”

Ziena also spoke on the power of student voices when it comes to how the UC spends its money. 

“The student movement is super powerful, and we have a voice that we should be using,” Ziena said. “If not, then we’re complicit in the war and the genocide that’s happening on people abroad, whether it’s all the way from LA, San Diego, to Mexico, to all of Latin America, to all of Africa, all of Asia, everywhere.”

Mohammad “Moh” Samhouri is a 2022-23 Copy Editor. He can be reached at