Hamline University has been eviscerated for pandering to students’ whims and tossing out seasoned professionals by firing a professor for showing an image of the Prophet Muhammed in an online art history class.
Professor Erika Lopez Prater was fired by the university in Minnesota and had her class dubbed ‘Islamophobic’ in an astonishing rebuke after several students complained.
On October 6, Prater was teaching an online class about Islamic art that was part of a wider curriculum on world art. She chose a 14th Century depiction of the angel Gabriel delivering the Prophet’s first revelation.
Conscious that in some fractions of Islam, it is blasphemous to look at any image of the Prophet, Professor Prater gave students two minutes to look away from the screen or log out before she projected the image onto the PowerPoint.
Professor Erika Lopez Prater was fired by the university in Minnesota and had her class dubbed ‘Islamophobic’ in an astonishing rebuke after several students, including Aram Wedatalla (right) complained that she had shown a depiction of the Prophet Muhammed in an art history class
Professor Prater chose this 14th Century depiction of the angel Gabriel delivering the Prophet’s first revelation. She gave students a two minute warning before she projected it onto her Power Point, and said: ‘I am showing you this image for a reason. There is this common thinking that Islam completely forbids, outright, any figurative depictions or any depictions of holy personages. While many Islamic cultures do strongly frown on this practice, I would like to remind you there is no one, monothetic Islamic culture’
Aram Wedatalla, a student who is also the president of the university’s Muslim association, chose to remain online, in the class. She then complained to school officials that the image ‘blindsided’ her and made her feel marginalized.
Despite being told by department head Allison Baker that she had done ‘everything right’, Prater was fired after more students – including some who were not in the class – complained.
I am offended as a Muslim. In choosing to label this image of Muhammad as Islamophobic, in endorsing the view that figurative representations of the Prophet are prohibited in Islam, Hamline has privileged a most extreme and conservative Muslim point of view
Professor Amna Khalid, who supports the fired Hamline professor
The students viewed it as a victory.
‘Hamline teaches us it doesn’t matter the intent, the impact is what matters,’ student DeAngela Huddleston told the school newspaper The Oracle.
But there is growing outrage among other professors and supporters of Prater who say she was unfairly punished to appease students’ whims.
Among them is Amna Khalid, Associate Professor of History at Carleton College.
In an essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Khalid – who is Muslim – argued that Hamline betrayed students by bending to allow only one view to exist – that of the complaining student.
‘This case offends me on many levels… As a professor, I am appalled by the senior administration’s decision to dismiss the instructor and pander to the students who claim to have been “harmed.”
Nearly 8,000 people have signed this Change.org petition in support of the fired professor
‘This kind of “inclusive excellence” permits DEI administrators to ride roughshod over faculty knowledge.
‘But most of all, I am offended as a Muslim. In choosing to label this image of Muhammad as Islamophobic, in endorsing the view that figurative representations of the Prophet are prohibited in Islam, Hamline has privileged a most extreme and conservative Muslim point of view.
Muslim professor Amna Khalid said Hamline ‘privileged a most extreme and conservative Muslim point of view
‘The administrators have flattened the rich history and diversity of Islamic thought. Their insistence that figurative representations of Muhammad are “forbidden for Muslims to look upon” runs counter to historical and contemporary evidence,’ she wrote.
There is also a Change.org petition in support of the fired professor which has gained 7,000 signatures.
The petition calls on the university to launch an independent investigation and says it fired Prater without giving her the right to ‘due process’.
Prater has not commented on the scandal.
After the incident unfolded in October, the university’s associate vice president for inclusive excellence, harshly referred to the lesson in an interview with the student newspaper as being ‘undeniably Islamophobic’.
‘It was decided it was best that this faculty member was no longer part of the Hamline community,’ he said.
It remains unclear if Allison Baker, the department head who agreed with Prater and told her she’d done ‘everything right’, remains in her position.
Hamline University did not immediately respond to inquiries on Monday morning.