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Amid turmoil on campus, a Palestinian student alleges that a Berkeley dean perceived the hijab as a threat.


Malak Afaneh, a Palestinian student, alleges that during a dinner party at the home of UC Berkeley’s School of Law dean, Professor Catherine Fisk, assaulted her and perceived her hijab as a threat. Afaneh expressed feeling traumatized and humiliated by the incident, which was captured in a viral video.

In a TikTok video, Afaneh clarified that the assault was not related to her discussing Palestine, as she didn’t get the opportunity to do so. Instead, she believes Fisk targeted her because she was a hijabi-wearing Palestinian Muslim student, which she felt justified the assault.

Afaneh was among the 60 students invited to the dinner by law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who is Jewish. Prior to the event, pro-Palestinian students had circulated posters urging a boycott of the dinner.

Afaneh intended to speak about UC’s complicity in the video, focusing on Ramadan, when she claims Fisk approached her, grabbed her hijab and breasts, and forcibly dragged her away.

The video depicts Afaneh offering an Islamic greeting while wearing a white shirt, a black-and-white keffiyeh, and a red hijab. Chemerinsky and Fisk are seen asking her to leave, with Fisk attempting to grab Afaneh’s cellphone and insisting that it is her house and Afaneh should depart.

In response, Chemerinsky stated that he would not be intimidated, expressing sadness at students using a social occasion for political purposes.

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