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A professor who lost a job offer from the University of Illinois over dozens of profane Twitter messages that critics deemed anti-Semitic said Tuesday that those messages were a product of his strong feelings and demanded he be given his job back.

Salaita said he and his wife sold their home and quit their jobs at Virginia Tech where he was a professor, in anticipation of a move to Illinois. He would have started last month, before the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved his hire.

Urbana-Champaign campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise told him Aug. 1 that the job was no longer being offered. She's said her decision was based on what she believed was the abusive nature of some of those messages.

Salaita's supporters argue he already had been essentially hired when Wise told him he didn't have a job, meaning that his tenure as a professor could have protected his speech. On Tuesday, before the press conference, about 150 students and others gathered in a steady rain outside the student union to protest Wise's decision.

Salaita's attorneys said they believe the board of trustees will make a decision on Salaita at a meeting Thursday.

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