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DEI worker sues University of Minnesota after she was fired for posing in front of an Israeli flag littered with swastikas
Image credit: Instagram screenshot

DEI worker sues University of Minnesota after she was fired for posing in front of an Israeli flag littered with swastikas

A former DEI manager at the University of Minnesota is suing the school for letting her go after she posted a photo that appeared to show her posing near an Israeli flag littered with swastikas, according to the Star Tribune.

Mashal Sherzad accused the institution of violating her First Amendment rights as well as discriminating against her, according to a filing this week.

As a result, Sherzad is seeking $75,000 in damages and wants to be reinstated at the university.

Not only is Sherzad a former DEI manager, she has also made a name for herself by posting fashion photos to Instagram. There is one instance where she is taking part in a glam shoot while carrying a Palestinian flag during an anti-Israel protest.

The New York Post reported that Sherzad started working at the university at the end of October, as a program manager for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School of Public Health.

However, the university terminated her in January after discovering that there were photos posted to Facebook that showed her at a December protest against the Israel-Hamas war in Barcelona, Spain.

One of the photos showed Sherzad in front of an Israeli flag with swastikas painted on it. However, Sherzad did not take responsibility for the action, claiming that the flag belonged to someone else.

“I cannot be responsible for somebody else’s intellectual property,” she said.

The lawsuit states that Sherzad claimed she posted the photos to her private Instagram, and that they were pushed to her Facebook account without her permission.

The photos in question have reportedly been deleted from her account, per reports.

The Post reported that in a letter of termination, dated January 10, School of Public Health Dean Melinda Pettigrew told the former DEI manager that "your conduct directly undermines your credibility in this role."

“I find that continuing your employment would create a real risk of significant disruption to School and University activities,” the letter read, according to the Post.

“This is particularly true given the current climate around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, within the University community and around the globe, and the highly inflammatory nature of the image you posted.”

However, those who have supported Sherzad and have spoken out about the violence enacted against Palestinians believe that they are being unfairly targeted.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-Minnesota, said: "The facts of this case are completely unbelievable."

"It is a dark day for freedom of speech."

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