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U of M students and staff feel ripple effects of pro-Palestinian protests

Protests over the Israel-Hamas war intensifies finals week at the University of Minnesota
Protests over the Israel-Hamas war intensifies finals week at the University of Minnesota 02:12

MINNEAPOLIS — At the University of Minnesota, protests are making for an unforgettable and tense finals week.

Amidst another day of Pro-Palestinian protests at the U of M Friday, Jewish students at Hillel Minnesota are speaking out, explaining why they don't feel safe on campus.

They point to hateful graffiti, imagery and messages on campus they said glorify terrorism.

"Seeing 'death to Zionism' as I'm walking to class feels as though the protestors on my campus want my Judaism to cease to exist," said student Carlie Sachs.

These students said they feel the need to fly under the radar to hide their identity, in order to stay safe.

"I, like many students, fear that the extremist rhetoric could at any moment become real violence," said student Alex Stewart.

Student Lyla Prass said a classmate asked her about her necklace with her Hebrew name on it.

"My peer next to me saw that and asked why I was killing her roommates' cousins," she said.            

Students at Hillel said they want the U to do more to stop what they say are demonstrations that are fueling hate.

Meanwhile, a former University of Minnesota staff member says she was fired over a pro-Palestinian social media post, and is now suing the school.

"The facts of this case are completely unbelievable," said Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director for Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota.

Mashal Sherzad said she posted a Pro-Palestinian message on Instagram, along with a photo with a man holding an Israeli flag with two swatstikas (spelling?) on it.

Sherzad said she doesn't support that flag, but said that her firing violates her freedom of speech and silences her.

"I'm really really scared for myself for many reasons, but most of all, I'm scared for the state of the world and what happened to me at this institution," said Sherzad.

A U of M spokesperson said it's the University's typical practice not to comment on active litigation.

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