On the campus of Hamline University, located in Saint Paul, adjunct professor Erika López Prater was fired in late November after a Muslim student complained to the college administration after she showed the controversial image in class. After her firing, many are demanding the professor be reinstated especially in light of the steps she took to explain her actions and to warn any Islamic students who might object.
Sabrina Conza, speaking for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, tells AFN Prater was fired even after students were warned.
"The professor did give a notice both in her syllabus and before showing the image,” Conza points out. “Despite that, the student chose to stay in the room and file a complaint against the professor after the class."
According to a sympathetic Newsweek article, the professor warned students in the syllabus, warned them verbally in class, then explained that not all Islamic cultures forbid showing Muhammad’s image. The painting she showed comes from the famous Compendium of Chronicles, a 14th century historical document from Iran that depicts paintings, genealogies, maps and writings.
Perhaps because Prater took such steps, and was citing a well-known document, a petition demanding she return to class has passed 10,000 names. The professor is also being defended by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which says she followed the appropriate steps and should not have been fired.
FIRE has contacted Hamline’s academic accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, and is asking it to investigate if the college violated its commitment to academic freedom.