An adjunct professor at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota was fired after showing her class medieval paintings depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Erika Lopez Prater showed an online class images of art depicting Muhammad. Several minutes prior to showing the images, the professor said she warned students the images would be displayed, so anyone who chose to could turn off their video feeds. Some Muslims believe it is idolatrous to show Muhammad’s face.
A senior in the class later complained to the school’s administration. According to reports, Hamline University decided the lecture was “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic.”
The school’s decision to not renew the professor’s contract sparked both a Change.org petition and a condemnation from PEN America.
“Non-renewing a professor’s contract under these circumstances is academic malpractice of a type that chills speech among all faculty, particularly contingent faculty who cannot rely on the status of tenure to protect their academic freedom,” said Jeremy Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America. “This professor’s contract should be renewed immediately, and Hamline administrators should take an opportunity to remind themselves what academic freedom means.”
Mark R. Lowery was formerly managing editor of Ed Post. He is a veteran journalist who has managed national magazines and worked for major newspapers, including New York Newsday, the Detroit Free Press and the Plain Dealer. He previously served as editorial director of October Research.