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A silenced Muslim valedictorian speaks, sort of …

Asna Tabassum?

Last week, as the chosen valedictorian at the private University of Southern California (USC), she was supposed to give the traditional speech as the top student. But in mid-April USC’s leadership canceled her commencement speech, citing safety concerns and “intensity of feelings” fueled by “social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.”

The university leaders did not and still do not point to any specific threat. They had not even read Asna Tabassum’s speech, simply because it had not yet been written.

Tabassum, a South Asian-American Muslim from San Bernardino majoring in biomedical engineering, said at the time that “USC has betrayed me.”

Here is the speech, shared with student publications, that she had hoped to deliver:

During the graduation ceremony at the school of engineering, Tabassum received a standing ovation from her classmates when her presence was acknowledged.

“As the crowd roared, she turned and laughed, raising a hand to her heart — a moment of joy at the university, which has been racked by tension and disappointment over upended graduation plans,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The ceremony was one of several smaller graduation ceremonies on the USC campus near downtown Los Angeles, after USC’s president, amid continuous campus protests, had canceled the main commencement ceremony, which usually draws around 65,000 people.

Instead, today, the campus was basically in lock-down mode, with strict security controls and open only to students and families and guests. Earlier this week, the faculty senate voted to censure USC’s leaders for their “mishandling of events around commencement.” The vote, 21 to 7 with six abstentions and it carries no legal implications — only the