October 21, 2005
On October 20, George Mason University issued a statement concerning the arrest of Tariq Khan on campus last month. (See “George Mason Student Busted for Anti-Recruiting.”)
“The university believes it would be inappropriate for this student to be prosecuted in a criminal court,” the statement says. It acknowledges that “aspects of this matter could have been handled differently.” But it says its internal investigation “has not revealed facts that would corroborate allegations of bias on the part of university officials.”
The university also said it was reviewing “all policies and procedures pertaining to leafleting, demonstrations, and other activities associated with free speech, with a goal of providing a safe and secure campus environment that preserves the rights of all those in the George Mason University community to express their views.” For Khan, this is not sufficient.
“I’m glad that they are recommending that the charges are dropped, but they still have a long way to go,” he says. The police, assisted by student thugs, Khan says, “attacked me not because I was giving out literature, but because they didn’t like the political message I was expressing.” That shows bias, he says. “To me, all their talk about respecting free speech is just hot air. If GMU authorities really respect free speech, then they will . . . take punitive action against the police and rightwing goons who assaulted me, and the police will issue me a public apology for what they did. But it seems that the school is only interested in making statements about respect for free speech, not actually proving it with their actions.”
Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia, who is representing Khan, says, “Tariq never should have been criminally charged in the first place for exercising his First Amendment right to express his political opinions on campus.” She says she is “very hopeful” the Virginia Commonwealth will drop the charges.