Professor Dismissed Over Muhammad Image Controversy Suing School

Erika López Prater, a former adjunct art professor at Hamline University, is suing the school for failing to renew her contract — her employment was allowed to expire after she stirred controversy by showing an image of Prophet Muhammad to her class.

Professor Dismissed Over Muhammad Image Controversy Suing School
Image credit: Associated Press

Facts

  • Erika López Prater, a former adjunct art professor at Hamline University, is suing the school for failing to renew her contract — her employment was allowed to expire after she stirred controversy by showing an image of Prophet Muhammad to her class.
  • In her lawsuit, filed Tuesday, López Prater claims the Minnesota school subjected her to religious discrimination and defamation, and also damaged her professional and personal reputation.
  • In October, López Prater showed a 14th-century image of Muhammad in an art history class — she gave multiple warnings to her students before displaying the reverential image. Many Muslims believe they aren't allowed to view a visual representation of the prophet for religious reasons.
  • Aram Wedatalla, an observant Muslim student, reported Lopéz Prater to administrators over the incident. An email sent later from senior administrator David Everett called Lopez Prater’s action Islamaphobic, while a statement co-signed by the university's president said respect for Muslim students, “should have superseded academic freedom.”
  • Lopéz Prater's lawyers are seeking more than $350K in damages from Hamline, which issued a statement acknowledging it had made some mistakes in its attempt to make the school a "multicultural" community. It also apologized for using the term "Islamophobic."

Sources: Al Jazeera, Associated Press, New York Times, and FOX News.

Narratives

  • Right narrative, as provided by Daily Mail. The woke mob has claimed another victim, but Lopéz Prater should be able to get some semblance of justice through this lawsuit. She took all the necessary precautions before showing the image, but one complaint and one email have tarnished her reputation and cost her a job. Civil rights organizations from all walks of life, as well as media outlets from both sides of the political aisle, agree the school failed to deal appropriately with this incident.
  • Left narrative, as provided by AlterNet. It’s time to stop blaming liberals every time an institution mistakenly implements a value and achieves a terrible result. Liberal ideals are meant to advance freedoms and justice for all. But Hamline, like many institutions before it, wrongly hid behind the liberal values of equality and acceptance to protect itself from potential charges of insensitivity. The right needs to stop twisting what the left stands for in order to advance its own values.

Predictions