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US Professor fired for showing painting of Prophet Muhammad, varsity bends to Islamic will

A female Professor was reportedly fired for showing the picture of Prophet Muhammad to her students during a global art history class at Hamline University in Minnesota in the United States.

As per reports, the incident took place on October 6, 2022, during which the unnamed Professor was teaching Islamic art to her students. She had warned them in advance about her plan to show two historic paintings of the last Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

One painting dated back to the 14th century (created by Persian scholar Rashīd al-Dīn) while another painting was made in the 16th century (by Mustafa ibn Vali).

Soon after, several Muslim students took offence to the display of the historic paintings and claimed that the professor’s actions constituted Islamophobia.

The President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Aram Wedatalla, was allegedly present in the class when the paintings were displayed to the students. He claimed, “I’m like, ‘this can’t be real.’”

She continued, “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.”

On October 7, 2022, she emailed the administration of Hamline University and also the leadership team of the Muslim Student Association. Aram Wedatalla also met with the varsity President Fayneese Miller and Dean of Students Patti Kersten.

Meanwhile, the female liberal arts professor apologised to Aram Wedatalla and other Muslim students in an email. “I would like to apologize that the image I showed in class on (Oct. 6) made you uncomfortable and caused you emotional agitation,” she wrote.

“It is never my intention to upset or disrespect students in my classroom. I (let) the class know ahead of time…I did not try to surprise students with this image, and I did my best to provide students with an out,” she further added.

The Professor continued, “I also described every subsequent slide I showed with language to indicate when I was no longer showing an image of the Prophet Muhammad…I am sorry that despite my attempt to prevent a negative reaction, you still viewed and were troubled by this image.”

On October 10, 2022, the members of the Muslim Student Associaiton and the Assistant Director of Social Justice Programs and Strategic Relations Nur Mood met with the administration of Hamline University.

On November 7 last year, an email was sent to undergraduate students at the liberal arts varsity by the Associate Vice President of Inclusive Excellence at Hamlline named Dr David Everett.

Without specifying any details about the case, the letter said that the administration condemned a ‘disrespectful, Islamophobic and undeniably inconsiderate’ incident that took place in one of its classrooms.

In an interview on December 2 last year, Assistant Director of Social Justice Programs and Strategic Relations Nur Mood said, “This (incident is) much deeper and it’s something that in a million years, I never expected that it would happen here at Hamline. I hope this is the last time I see something similar to this.”

He further alleged, “There’s a lot of apologies all happening, but the harm’s done. I think we should have started more focused about the healing process.”

The President of Hamline University, Fayneese Miller, has come under fire for justifying the disciplinary action against the professor of the liberal arts.

She said, “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.” 

“Academic freedom is very important, but it does not have to come at the expense of care and decency toward others. Our response to the classroom event does not disregard or minimize the importance of academic freedom,” she claimed. Meanwhile, the female Professor lamented how her intentions were mischaracterised.

“My perspective and actions have been lamentably mischaracterized, my opportunities for due process have been thwarted, and Dr. Everett’s all-employee email accusation that ‘undeniably… Islamophobic’ actions undertaken in my class on Oc. 6 have been misapplied,” she told Hamline Oracle.

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