A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) protester will be charged with a hate crime for throwing rocks at Jewish students at the University of Illinois Hillel center on Tuesday, the News-Gazette reports.
Sayed A. Quraishi, 23, will be charged with a class 3 felony for a violent hate crime – a charge that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. He threw the rocks at the Jewish students in the midst of an SJP protest across the university campus on April 18.
University police estimated that roughly 75 people gathered outside the campus Hillel, where speakers used bullhorns to make speeches. According to police, Jewish students and staff at the Hillel gathered on an outdoor patio to play music and have snacks in response to the march.
Quraishi was captured on video throwing a stone at the students on the Hillel patio.
“There is no world where throwing a rock at Jewish students is acceptable,” tweeted the Anti-Defamation League’s Midwest office. “We welcome authorities taking this case seriously and support efforts to create a more welcoming campus environment.”
Al Aqsa march
The protest was planned in response to an Israeli police raid of Al-Aqsa Mosque on April 15 during Ramadan in Jerusalem. “Just a couple of days ago, Israeli occupation forces raided our beloved (Al-Aqsa Mosque) during the holiest month of the year for Muslims,” SJP president Buthaina Hattab announced as grounds for the protest.
The protest included a planned stop at the campus Hillel. During the protest, the Illini Hillel offered space on its rooftop patio for students who felt unsafe, the Hillel's executive director Erez Cohen told the Daily Illini.
“We offered students to come in the Hillel in a safe space on our deck with snacks and a little bit of music — kind of lowering the level of stress that came with this rally.”Erez Cohen, executive director of Illini Hillel
A few days later, “a member of the Illini Hillel called the Champaign Police Department to report an incident that happened during the April 18 event,” university police said. After analyzing the footage, police were able to charge Quraishi with the hate crime.
“When people come to the Jewish center to yell against Israel, they’re creating an equation between any Jewish person and the State of Israel,” Cohen said. “That’s singling out an entire community based on a country that’s miles away.”