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Hamline University Professor sues varsity after she was called ‘Islamophobic’ and fired for showing Muhammad’s painting for academic purpose

“Among other things, Hamline, through its administration, has referred to Dr López Prater’s actions as undeniably Islamophobic...Comments like these, which have now been published in news stories around the globe, will follow Dr López Prater throughout her career", the attorney said.

On Tuesday (January 17), a former liberal arts Professor named Erika López Prater sued Hamline University for damaging her professional and personal reputation and subjecting her to religious discrimination.

The development comes weeks after she was fired by the varsity for displaying two historic paintings of Prophet Muhammad to her students during a global art history class. 

“Among other things, Hamline, through its administration, has referred to Dr López Prater’s actions as undeniably Islamophobic…Comments like these, which have now been published in news stories around the globe, will follow Dr López Prater throughout her career, potentially resulting in her inability to obtain a tenure track position at any institution of higher education,” her attorneys informed.

They pointed out how the university overlooked the ‘academic purpose’ of the paintings and went on to label her as Islamophobic, based on the complaint of a Muslim student. The attorneys had served the lawsuit to the varsity, post which the Hamline administration characterised its action against Erika López Prater as a ‘misstep.’

Hamline university concedes action against Professor as ‘misstep’

A joint statement was released by Hamline University President Faynesse Miller and Board of Trustees chair Ellen Watters.

“Like all organizations, sometimes we misstep. In the interest of hearing from and supporting our Muslim students, language was used that does not reflect our sentiments on academic freedom,” the statement read.

“Based on all that we have learned, we have determined that our usage of the term ‘Islamophobic’ was therefore flawed. Higher education is about learning and growing. We have certainly learned and continue to grow as we generate new knowledge to share with all of our Hamline community.”

In a bid to undo the damage, the varsity has now decided to hold two public sessions about ‘academic freedom and religion’ and ‘academic freedom and student care.’

The Background of the controversy

Erika López Prater was fired for showing the picture of Prophet Muhammad to her students during a global art history class at Hamline University in Minnesota in the United States.

As per reports, the incident took place on October 6, 2022, during which the Professor was teaching Islamic art to her students. She had warned them in advance about her plan to show two historic paintings of the last Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

One painting dated back to the 14th century (created by Persian scholar Rashīd al-Dīn) while another painting was made in the 16th century (by Mustafa ibn Vali).

Soon after, several Muslim students took offence to the display of the historic paintings and claimed that the professor’s actions constituted Islamophobia.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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