Iranian-American professor raises eyebrows with campus Islamophobia protest
Bahar Davary/ Facebook
A religious studies professor at the University of San Diego has introduced a new protest on campus against anti-Muslim rhetoric, which involves students and faculty wearing holocaust reminiscent yellow stars with the word "Muslim" written on them, the Times of San Diego reported.
Iranian-American Bahar Davary, associate professor of theology and religious studies at the university, teaches a class titled “Islamic Faith and Practice,” an introduction to Islam. The idea for the protest was conceived during one class session, with students contributing their ideas for the design.
The Nazi's forced European Jews to wear yellow Stars of David on their clothing during the time leading up to and during the Holocaust. The version used in Professor Davary's protest included a crescent moon and the word "Muslim" inside the star, in an effort to connect modern anti-Muslim sentiments with the treatment of the Jews during WWII.
“What it symbolizes is that there have been people who have been made to be the ‘other’ throughout history,” said Davary.
Following the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that and the December 2 shooting attack in San Bernardino, anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise in the US and around the world.
Many American politicians have urged the government not to accept Syrian refugees and Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made a number of highly controversial statements including creating a national Muslim registry, and banning foreign Muslims from entering the US. Another GOP candidate, Ben Carson said that he could not support a Muslim being elected President.
“It’s not only Trump. It’s not only Ben Carson,” Davary said. “There have been anti-Muslim actions taking place. In some ways it’s frightening.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also reported an unprecedented level of Acts of vandalism against mosques, anti-Muslim threats and fear in the time following the Paris attacks.
As of December 17, Davary estimated that nearly 100 students and faculty were wearing the stars on campus. She told the Times that more people asked for stars to wear every day. “By wearing these, we’re simply inviting conversation about this topic,” she said.
However, Davary has advised those who are participating in protest to only wear the stars on campus, where their context is understood.
The protest has caught the attention of the Jewish community and pro-Israel advocates. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, told the Washington Free Beacon that the “imagery is off.”
“When we talk about the yellow star, let’s remember who instituted it,” Cooper said. “You had to wear it under penalty of death.”
In a statement released through a university spokeswoman Davary defended the protest saying that “we realize that it is a stark symbol that carries a lot of weight and meaning today not only for Jews but for humanity.”
“That is as it should be, if we are to learn anything from our collective history. The yellow Star of David with the word Muslim written on it is a symbol that my students and I wear with utmost respect for the memory of the Jewish lives lost,” she added.
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