Illiniois college grad hurls rock at Jewish students, faces up to 5 years in prison

“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,” said Hillel director Erez Cohen.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A recent graduate of an Illinois university is facing up to five years in prison on hate crime charges after he threw a rock at a group of Jewish students during an anti-Israel protest.

Sayed A. Quraishi, 23, was caught by a security camera hurling a rock at Jewish students who were sitting on the outdoor patio of a Hillel (a Jewish campus organization) building at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in April 2022.

The rock-throwing occurred outside of the Jewish student building during an anti-Israel rally, which was organized by the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and took place during the intermediary days of the eight-day-long Passover festival.

SJP activists had set up loudspeakers outside of the building, in what appeared to be an attempt to disrupt the Jewish students’ holiday event.

In response, “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, the Hillel’s director, told the Daily Illini.

Apparently angered by that move, Quraishi threw a rock at a group of students who were sitting on the outdoor patio.

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Hillel reported the rock attack to police and the video depicting the incident, and investigators identified Quraishi as the perpetrator.

He reportedly told investigators that he had thrown the rock “as an act of protest,” according to the Times-Gazette, adding that he felt Jewish students had been “disrespectful” by ignoring the speakers outside of the building.

That explanation did not spare Quraishi, who graduated from the school this spring with a degree in chemical engineering, from criminal charges.

Illinois State Attorney Julia Reitz announced that he would be charged with a Class 3 Felony, which could land him up to five years in prison.

“There is no world where throwing a rock at Jewish students is acceptable,” tweeted the Anti-Defamation League’s Midwest office, praising Reitz’ announcement about the charges.

“We welcome authorities taking this case seriously and support efforts to create a more welcoming campus environment.”