On 12 May, Fatima Mohammed was voted by her classmates to be the speaker at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law commencement ceremony, and made headlines as she proudly wore a Palestinian keffiyeh during her speech, highlighting the causes of Palestine.
However, much to the surprise of students and activists, the video of her address was quickly removed from the school’s YouTube page.
It is thought that the video was taken down due to Fatima’s speech which addressed systems of oppression and how legal principles can be applied to combat this.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the speech may have been removed to avoid drawing attention to Palestine.
During her speech, Fatima said: “Israel continues to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards as it encourages lynch mobs to target Palestinian homes and businesses, as it imprisons its children, as it continues its project of settler colonialism, expelling Palestinians from their homes, carrying the ongoing Nakba… our silence is no longer acceptable.”
People who criticized the speech claimed that it was “antisemitic”.
However, the Jewish Law Students Association of CUNY School of Law wrote a supportive letter for Fatima, stating that it is unfair to label her factual descriptions as “antisemitic” when they are simply describing the everyday Palestinian life.
All commencement speeches of CUNY from 2014 to 2021 can be watched on the school’s YouTube page.
At the 2022 graduation, Palestinian activist and founder of Within Our Lifetime Palestine, Nerdeen Kiswani, was the speaker.
Her address like Fatima’s before her, decried the Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
The New York chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair) expressed their disapproval of Fatima’s commencement speech being taken down.
Cair-NY stated that universities and colleges should not be scared to have conversations concerning human rights, not needing to worry about facing repercussions.