ST. PAUL, Minn – St. Thomas University’s president Julie Sullivan issued a statement last week denouncing anti-Semitic tweets that were made by the school’s student body president back in 2014.
“Hate speech – whether shared out of ignorance, emotion or to advance an agenda – is unacceptable. It is deeply disappointing that the president of our student government or any other member of the St. Thomas community would be accused of anti-Semitic discourse,” Sullivan said.
St. Thomas University Student Body President Mayzer Muhammad said his tweets, which were recently published by a Jewish newspaper, were taken out of context and are being exposed now to target him as a Muslim leader on campus.
An online database, Canary Mission, which documents people and groups promoting hatred of the USA, Israel, and Jews on college campuses in North America, posted Muhammad’s tweets. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Muhammad deactivated his Twitter account after receiving angry comments over his tweets after they were published in the Jewish newspaper.
“If you support Israel in anyway, shape or form, please unfollow me right now cause those people are the scum of the earth,” Muhammad wrote on his now-suspended Twitter account on July 1, 2014. He answered a response to his tweet on July 2, stating “the yahood (Arabic term for Jew) will get what coming for them Insha’Allah” (Arabic for “If Allah Wills”):
Sullivan said in the release, “The University of St. Thomas strongly denounces the 2014 statements that have circulated on social media – and all hateful anti-Semitic, anti-Christian or anti-Muslim posts.”
Muhammad issued a statement of his own to the student body of St. Thomas explaining that the tweets he wrote were three years old and he has been the victim of an Islamophobic smear campaign by organizations looking to discredit him. He claims that he is under attack for being a Muslim student government leader at a private Catholic institution.
“The tweets that resurfaced were from 3+ years ago and do not reflect what I meant at the time. My words were poorly chosen and shared during a period of time where I was very emotional about Israel’s politics and the loss of life in Gaza. I regret my choice of words and apologize for any impact this may have had on people reading my tweets,” Muhammad wrote.
Muhammad told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “What these organizations are portraying me to be is an anti-Semite, and that is something that I am not.”
Other tweets found on Muhammad’s Twitter account include one dated November 10, 2014, which reads, “Us Muslims need to realize that the Israeli Settlers are trying to destroy Masjid Al-Aqsa, the 3rd holiest site in Islam. #WakeUpPeople.” Another tweet from July 17, 2014 said, “What a lot of us Americans don’t understand is that the state of Israel is being funded by OUR tax money. This needs to stop #FreePalestine”. The Canary Mission website listed other tweets and re-tweets from Muhammad’s Twitter account here.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Muhammad will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology of Global Health. He was a student at St. Thomas University when he wrote the controversial tweets. He has been student body president since May 2016.
A Change.org petition has been started to revoke Mayzer Muhammad’s position as University of St. Thomas Student President for inciting violence against Jewish people on his Twitter account and for violating the University’s Code Of Ethics. The petition reads, “By signing this petition, you agree Mayzer should be removed from his position as president of the undergraduate student body and/or face expulsion from the University of St. Thomas for his anti-Semitic behavior.” As of this time, the petition has only 36 signatures.
The university is considering its next steps in Muhammad’s future as a student leader.
“In the coming days, our student body and our student government – which have focused on enhancing diversity, understanding and inclusivity on campus – will need to deliberate about their future leadership. The student government is taking this situation very seriously and is seeking input from the student body,” Sullivan said, “Their governance policies have a clearly defined process when the actions of a leader are called into question. The university will respect this process.”
In his statement, Muhammad called for unity between Muslims and Jews. “Now more than ever, it is critical for Muslims and Jews to unite, as we already have to combat the hate and attacks that come our way. I am in full support of the Jewish community, and am commanded by my faith to care for all people and to stand up for others who may come under attack.”
The Star Tribune reports Muhammad met with the university’s rabbi-in-residence, Alan Shavit-Lonstein and pledged to mend and create a better relationship with the Jewish community.