Badges aimed at Islamophobia spark controversy

Posted at 7:00 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 09:42:58-05

SAN DIEGO -- A badge used to create awareness of Islamophobia on the University of San Diego campus is sparking controversy.

Last week, theology professor Bahar Davary and a group of students wore yellow badges during a protest. They donned yellow Stars of David with a crescent and the word “Muslim” on them. The use has sparked a wave of criticism.

Some seven decades ago, Max lost most of his family in Nazi concentration camps. So did his wife, Rose, who is also a Holocaust survivor. For the couple, the first introduction to the Nazis came years before the camps, with a decree Jews must wear the Star of David. Max was living in Poland.

“The locals would shout at us and spit at us, and we were identified,” Max said.

Rose was in a village in Hungary.

“They were calling us dirty Jews,” Rose said.

So many years later, the pain is revisited.

“It's very distressing,” Max said.

“It doesn't seem right, doesn't seem right at all,” said Rose. “It's very insulting. It hurts, because we went through hell.”

The local chapter of Anti-Defamation League - which tracks anti-Muslim sentiment, calls the use of the badge unfortunate.

“Drawing linkages across history in a way that lacks sensitivity and understanding, only serves to provoke and offend,” said Jenna Corbin, who works with the group.

“This is not a learning tool. Hitler used pictures like this as his learning tool,” Max said.

In a statement, USD said this:

"As part of a class exploring various means to combat the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our nation today, the yellow Star of David, combined with a crescent moon and the word “Muslim,” was used as a learning tool by a USD associate professor of theology and religious studies. It was adapted as a respected symbol of all three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to represent unity and solidarity, and it was not intended to make an analogy between discrimination against Muslims and the persecution of Jews in Germany and throughout Europe before the Holocaust. The university acknowledges the historic significance and emotional impact of the use of the yellow star, and the professor regrets the pain and misunderstandings this has caused."