A University of St. Thomas student leader has come under fire for three-year-old tweets that he says were unfairly resurfaced to target him as a Muslim leader on campus.
Mayzer Muhammad, the St. Paul school's undergraduate student body president, said he stands against anti-Semitism and that his 2014 tweets were taken out of context. The tweets were featured on the website Canary Mission, an online database that tracks individuals and groups for "promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews."
University President Julie Sullivan released a statement this week denouncing Muhammad's tweets and calling hate speech on campus 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," she said.
Muhammad's tweets were taken from his Twitter account and posted on Canary Mission. The site lists his major, his activities on campus and people he may be connected with who are also listed on the site.
Muhammad deactivated his Twitter account after receiving angry comments following a story about his tweets published by a Jewish newspaper.
Canary Mission began following Muhammad after he was elected to his student government position last spring. He notified his student government advisers about the site then.
One of his tweets posted by Canary Mission reads: "If you support Israel in any way, shape or form, please unfollow me right now cause those people are the scum of the earth."
"I am absolutely sorry and regret that I chose my words so poorly," he said in an interview Friday. "What these organizations are portraying me to be is an anti-Semite, and that is something that I am not."
Muhammad said he is being singled out for being a Muslim leader at a Catholic university.
"For over a year, I have been harassed by an organization called Canary Mission, which is a notorious organization that uses cyberbullying to attack students and professors who speak about Palestinian rights," he said.
Sullivan said student government is taking the situation seriously. "To Jewish members of our community, we extend our full support and acknowledge the pain and hurtfulness this situation has created," she said.
Earlier this year, Muhammad spoke out against hate on campus at a St. Thomas community rally.
After his tweets gained attention this week, Muhammad met with the university's rabbi-in-residence, Alan Shavit-Lonstein.
"I will do my best to mend this relationship and create a better relationship with the Jewish community," he said.
Beatrice Dupuy • 612-673-1707