Muslim Public Affairs Council is urging Hamline University to REVERSE

Muslim Public Affairs Council is urging Hamline University to “REVERSE” its decision to fire a professor

A prominent Muslim organization is defending a professor who was fired after showing a painting of the Prophet Mohammed in class.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council released a statement Monday calling on Hamline University to reverse its decision to fire art history professor Erika Lopez Prater.

It even praised the professor’s teaching, saying the picture she showed to her class in October was not Islamophobic – despite claims by some students.

With the release of its statement, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is just the latest group to rally behind Prater and denounce the Minnesota-based school’s decision to fire it.

Aram Wedatalla complained to school administrators that an art professor who showed her class a 14th-century depiction of the Prophet Mohammed was Islamophobic

Minnesota's Hamline University is facing a backlash for firing professor Erika Lopez Prater

Minnesota’s Hamline University is facing a backlash for firing professor Erika Lopez Prater

Prater faced backlash almost immediately after teaching an online course on Islamic art on Oct. 6 as part of a broader world arts curriculum.

She chose to show the class a 14th-century depiction of the angel Gabriel delivering the first revelation of the prophet.

Aware that in some areas of Islam it is blasphemous to look at an image of the Prophet, Professor Prater gave the students two minutes to look away from the screen or sign off before projecting the image onto their presentation.

But Aram Wedatalla, a student who is also the president of the university’s Muslim Association, chose to keep classes online. She then complained to school officials that the picture “taken them by surprise” and made her feel left out.

Despite being told by department head Allison Baker that she did “everything right,” Prater was fired after other students, including some who weren’t in class, complained.

The students saw it as a victory.

“Hamline teaches us that it’s not about intent, it’s about effect,” student DeAngela Huddleston told the school newspaper The Oracle.

Now, however, many Muslims come out to denounce the school’s actions while praising the Prater for showcasing Muslim art.

In its statement on Monday, the Muslim Public Affairs Council supported the Prater and called on the university to “reverse its decision and take compensatory measures to improve the situation.

Some students at the school praised the faculty's decision to fire Prater.  The university campus is shown here

Some students at the school praised the faculty’s decision to fire Prater. The university campus is shown here

“As a Muslim organization, we recognize the validity and pervasiveness of an Islamic position that discourages or forbids any portrayal of the Prophet, especially when done in a repugnant or disrespectful manner,” the organization said.

“However, we also recognize the historical reality that other viewpoints existed and that there were some Muslims, including and particularly Shia Muslims, who had no qualms about depicting the Prophet (although they often veiled his face out of respect).

“All of this is evidence of the great inner diversity within the Islamic tradition that should be celebrated.”

Thanks are due to the professor for her role in educating students, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and for doing so in a critical-emphatic manner.

The Council for Public Affairs of Muslims

It further argues that the painting is not Islamophobic, noting that it was in fact “commissioned by a 14th-century Muslim king to honor the Prophet and represents the first Qur’anic revelation of the angel Gabriel”.

“Even though many Muslims feel uncomfortable with such depictions, Dr. Prater to emphasize a key principle of religious education: Religions are not monolithic in nature, but diverse in themselves.

“This principle should be cherished to combat Islamophobia, which often rests on trivializing Islam and looking at Islamic tradition in an essentialist and reductionist way.

“The professor should be thanked for her role in educating students, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and for doing so in a critically emphatic manner.”

The Muslim Public Affairs Council also noted that “highly offensive and radicalized images of the Prophet Muhammad abound on the internet and social media,” which it considers “inappropriate and not dissimilar to “black faces” or anti-Semitic caricatures.” .

But the organization says: “Given the ubiquity of Islamophobic depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, there is little point in targeting an art professor who seeks to challenge a narrow understanding of Islam.

“There is an unmistakable irony to the situation that should be appreciated.

“Additionally, misusing the term Islamophobia has the negative effect of watering down the term and making it less effective at inciting actual acts of bigotry.”

It concludes: “Finally, we emphasize the importance of education in the Islamic tradition.

“Based on our shared Islamic and universal values, we affirm the need to instill a spirit of free inquiry, critical thinking and diversity of opinion in the university environment.”

1673330685 356 Muslim Public Affairs Council is urging Hamline University to REVERSE

A petition in support of the fired professor has garnered over 9,600 signatures

The statement comes as a petition in support of the fired professor, which has garnered over 9,600 signatures.

The petition calls on the university to launch an independent investigation and says it fired Prater without giving her the right to a “due process.”

The Prater has not commented on the scandal.

After the incident in October, the University of Inclusive Excellence’s associate vice president called the lesson “undeniably Islamophobic” in an interview with the student newspaper.

“It has been decided that it is for the best if this faculty member is 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 did “everything right,” remains in her position.

Hamline University did not respond to inquiries regarding criticism of the decision when contacted by .

Instead, a spokesman referred to a December statement on the matter.

“Hamline University is made up of people with different views, expectations and interactions. Our community, like many in higher education, is made up of people with diverse life experiences, including religious beliefs and traditions.

“As an institution, we recognize the diversity among us and are committed to creating an environment of respect and caring for one another.

“As has been reported, last semester an assistant teacher showed pictures of the Prophet Mohammed. Students do not give up their faith in the classroom.

“For many Muslims, looking at an image of the Prophet Mohammed is against their faith.

“Questions about how best to discuss Islamic art have been raised by many academics and are certainly a topic worth discussing and debating.

“For those of us charged with the responsibility of educating the next generation of leaders and engaged citizens, it was important that our Muslim students, as well as all other students, feel safe, supported and respected inside and outside our classrooms,” said a speaker.