Professor sacked for showing images of the prophet Muhammad
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A professor was fired from her job at a US university after she showed a painting of the Prophet Muhammad to students in a lecture.
Adjunct professor Erika López Prater said she was fired from Hamline University in Minnesota, after showing a 14th century painting of the Prophet to her students in her global art history class.
López Prater told the New York Times she had warned students that images of holy figures, including Prophet Muhammad and Buddha, would be shown as part of the class.
She said she asked anyone who had any issues to come to her with their concerns, but that no one did.
Prior to showing the image in class, López Prater said she told students she would be showing it in a few minutes time, giving students time to leave the room if they wanted to.
Many practicing Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet as being against Islamic teachings.
A senior in the class later complained to the university about the class, which was followed by other Muslim students, who didn’t attend the class, to also speak out in support of the student.
University officials told López Prater she wouldn’t be required the next semester.
In a statement, the University’s president Dr Fayneese Miller said: “To look upon an image of the Prophet Muhammad, for many Muslims, is against their faith.
“It was important that our Muslim students, as well as all other students, feel safe, supported and respected both in and out of our classrooms.”
In an interview with the university’s newspaper last month, the student who complained explained: “I’m like, ‘This can’t be real’.
“As a Muslim and a Black person, I don’t feel like I belong, and I don’t think I’ll ever belong in a community where they don’t value me as a member, and they don’t show the same respect that I show them.”
In a letter sent out to students, Miller apologised to students, writing: “It is not our intent to place blame; rather, it is our intent to note that in the classroom incident - where an image forbidden for Muslims to look upon was projected on a screen and left for many minutes - respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.”
In the wake of her dismissal, a petition has been set up in support of López Prater titled ‘Petition in Support of the Dismissed Hamline Instructor Wrongly Accused of Islamophobia’ - it currently has just over 7,000 signatures.