SAN DIEGO – A University of San Diego professor’s protest against discrimination toward Muslims resulted in a campus controversy when she and students wore yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany and Europe before the Holocaust.

Representatives of various Jewish groups called the protest an inappropriate use of a hurtful image.

“While the intentions may have been very good, the appropriation of a symbol that carries so much weight in the Jewish community was not a good choice,” said Michael Rabkin, executive director of Hillel of San Diego.

The yellow six-pointed Star of David symbol resembles the stars worn by Jews under Nazi rule, but shows a crescent moon and the word “Muslim.”

Rabkin said he was pleased that the school apologized and said he has reached out to private Catholic schools to consider opening a USD chapter of Hillel, a Jewish campus organization.

The university’s Facebook page stated that the exercise in professor Bahar Davary’s class was meant to raise awareness of Islamophobia and not intended “to make an analogy between the current situation of Muslims in the U.S. to that of Jews in Germany and wider Europe before the Holocaust.”

The statement concluded by saying, “The project’s symbol was an attempt to demonstrate solidarity among Muslims, Jews and Christians. Professor Bahar Davary regrets any misunderstandings that may have resulted from this class project.”

The USD communications office also said the professor has no interest in using the stars for future protests.

In a Times of San Diego article published before the controversy, Davary said she came up with the idea as a project in her class, Islamic Faith and Practice. She also was quoted as saying the stars showed that people throughout history were made to feel like “the other.”

Davary could not be reached by the Union-Tribune for comment during the winter break at USD, but she did respond to criticism of the protest on her own Facebook page.

“It is a stark symbol,” she wrote. “My students and I wear it in memorial of the Jewish lives lost and in the hope to avoid causing harm to another religious/ethnic group.”