University of San Diego professor Bahar Davary and her students wearing the Muslim Stars of David.
University of San Diego professor Bahar Davary and her students wearing the Muslim Stars of David.

A religious studies professor at the University of San Diego who is concerned about growing anti-Muslim rhetoric has started a silent protest, with students and faculty wearing yellow stars marked “Muslim.”

Bahar Davary, associate professor of theology and religious studies, came up with the idea during her class “Islamic Faith and Practice,” an introduction to Islam, and her students suggested several designs.

The yellow Star of David is what the Nazis required all Jews to wear prior to the Holocaust. The crescent moon and word “Muslim” draw the connection with today’s politics.

A closeup of a star

“What it symbolizes is that there have been people who have been made to be the ‘other’ throughout history,” said Davary, an Iranian-American whose academic specialty at the Catholic university is Islam.

Last month Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he would require all Muslim-Americans to register in a national database, and subsequently proposed banning Muslims from entering the country. Ben Carson, another Republican contender, has said he could not support a Muslim as 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.”

Last week, a mosque in the Coachella Valley was firebombed, and a 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of a hate crime.

Davary’s students first began wearing the stars, and then other University of San Diego faculty members. She estimates there are over 100 being worn on campus, with more people asking for the stars every day. “By wearing these, we’re simply inviting conversation about this topic,” she said.

She noted that the Star of David is a symbol respected by all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

For now, it’s a campus protest only. Davary advises her students not to wear the stars off campus in case the meaning is misunderstood.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.