Swastika made of red drinking cups
Students appear to salute a swastika made of red drinking cups. Image from Twitter

School officials, Orange County politicians and a Muslim civil rights organization are condemning an Internet photo of Newport Harbor High School students with outstretched arms in a Nazi salute gathered around red plastic cups arranged to form a swastika.

The photo — said to be have been shot at an off-campus party — was posted on Twitter this weekend, school officials said.

“We were recently made aware of social media postings involving some students who created inappropriate anti-semitic symbols and possible underage drinking,” The Newport-Mesa Unified School District said in a statement. “While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in all their forms.”

The photo was being investigated by laws enforcement, with the district’s cooperation.

“We remain focused on educating students on all aspects of life’s challenges and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large,” the statement said.

Congresswoman Katie Porter — who represents the 45th District — also issued a Twitter statement:

“I condemn this display of a hateful, anti-semitic symbol and call on parents and community leaders to redouble our efforts to educate young people about the history of violence against Jewish people worldwide. This has no place in Orange County.”

Added Coata Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley in a statement Monday morning: “There is no place for hateful symbols of swastikas and Nazi salutes in our community. Glorifying or even joking about these symbols contradicts the values we share as a diverse community. Normalizing these symbols as a joke is dangerous.”

Foley says she wants to discourage vilification of the teens who posed for the picture.

“Instead, we need to seriously address why teens in our community might think these types of hateful symbols are accwptable or funny and worthy of selfies.”

The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned the picture.

“We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and all other targeted minorities and against the actions of bigots who violate our nation’s long-standing principles of religious tolerance and inclusion,”  CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said. “These young adults are expressing hatred that has been handed down from an older generation.”

Ayloush encouraged the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to educate students about “the harm of bigotry.”

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

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