An Iranian-American theology professor and some students at the University of San Diego sought to raise awareness of "anti-Muslim rhetoric" by donning yellow Stars of David with a crescent and the word "Muslim" on them — a symbol straight out of Nazi Germany.
Professor Bahar Davary defended her decision to wear the stars despite claims of insensitivity towards members of the Jewish community.
Via a university spokesperson, Davary said the stars "w[ere] not meant to draw an analogy between the Holocaust and the current atmosphere Muslims face."
"The idea was discussed in my classes of doing a project to start a campus conversation about the anti-Muslim rhetoric rising all around us," Davary explained.
The protest, which was meant as a "learning tool" for students, was not aimed at diminishing the plight of more than six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, the professor said.
"We realize that it is a stark symbol that carries a lot of weight and meaning today not only for Jews but for humanity," Davary said. "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 and her students wore the yellow star "in sympathy with those who lived through the tragedy and survived, and those who still bear the painful memory."
The goal was to raise awareness to the dangers of "marking any group of people as the 'other,'" she said.
Jacob Baime, executive director at the Israel on Campus Coalition, called the use of the symbols "highly offensive."
"The industrial slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews by the Nazis is unique in human history. Any serious professor would have the decency to respect the memory of the victims," he said.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper said "the imagery is off," adding that European Jews "constituted no threat whatsoever to the German state" back during the 1930s while the [current] threat of extremist terrorism "is real."