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Muslim student confirmed to US university board

July 17, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California’s governing board confirmed its first practicing Muslim student member, despite opposition from some Jewish groups.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, conservative commentator David Horowitz and others had called on the board to reject UC Berkeley student Sadia Saifuddin’s appointment, alleging that some of her political activities as a student senator and member of the Muslim Students Association make her unqualified to represent students.

Those activities included co-sponsoring a bill calling for the divestment of university funds from companies with economic ties to the Israeli military or Israeli settlements on the West Bank. She also authored a resolution condemning a UC Santa Cruz lecturer who had linked the Muslim Students Association with terrorism “for inciting racist and Islamophobic rhetoric.”

“She is prominent in the anti-Israel boycott campaign, an extremist movement that demonized the Jewish state, rejects dialogue, and fosters bigotry,” Roberta Seid, a research-education director at StandWithUs, an organization promoting education of Israel, told regents before the vote.

Saifuddin, 21, said after the vote that she expected opposition and hoped that people would look beyond her political activity to other things she has done.

She said the divestment bill was a big issue with the constituency she represented at UC Berkeley.

“My capacity was to represent that specific community and the views of that community,” she said. “My capacity as student regent is very different.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an occasional flashpoint for students and faculty members at the University of California. Pro-Palestinian protests have become a regular occurrence on many of its campuses, where students sometimes use sensational tactics, including simulating checkpoints and combining swastikas with the Star of David.

In 2010, 10 Muslim students were convicted of misdemeanors for repeatedly interrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine, where students were suspected of painting swastikas in university buildings.

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