A teacher at a Minnesota university will reportedly sue the school after she was fired for showing paintings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, along with other religious figures, according to Fox News.
Dr. Erika Lopez Prater, who teaches a class about Islamic art, was fired by Hamline University for showing images of the religious figures despite warning students multiple times that she would do so.
The incident stems from a complaint by Aram Wedatalla, a Muslim student who complained to administrators about seeing the images. Lopez Prater was subsequently removed from her role as teacher of that course, in addition to the university president apologizing to students for the offense.
“It is not our intent to place blame,” said university president Fayneese Miller. “Respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.”
Lawyers for the teacher will seek in excess of $350,000 due to possible “religious discrimination” and “defamation.”
“Hamline’s actions have caused significant harm to Dr. López Prater. In the short term, she has lost the income from her auxiliary position,” the law firm representing the teacher said in a press release.
“She claims that she has also suffered significant emotional distress as a result of her mistreatment by Hamline,” the lawyers said, adding that their client has claimed that her “personal and professional reputation and future employment prospects have been irreparably damaged” by the university’s conduct.
The St. Paul school appears to have eased off its original position under the threat of legal action, admitting at least some fault.
“Hamline is a multi-cultural, multi-religious community that has been a leader in creating space for civil conversations. Like all organizations, sometimes we misstep,” the school said in a statement.
The school is now saying the exact opposite of its original statement in the president’s apology to students, reportedly apologizing for describing the situation as “Islamophobic” and saying that the use of the term was “flawed.”
The school now says that respect for Muslim students should not have superseded academic freedom, according to the New York Times.
Hamline University is a small liberal arts college, founded in 1854.
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