One professor out of Minnesota-based Hamline University that was fired over showing images of Muhammad in her art class has now reportedly slammed the school with a large lawsuit.
After losing her position as an art professor in the wake of showing a number of images while teaching a class about Islamic art, Dr. Erika Lopez Prater brought forth the legal action this past Tuesday, as reported by FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul.
“Hamline’s actions and statements may have constituted religious discrimination, defamation, and other violations of law,” explained the lawyers representing Prater, stated the report from Fox 9.
“Hamline’s actions have caused significant damage to Dr. López Prater. In the near term, she has lost the income from her adjunct position. She alleges she also suffered significant emotional distress due to her mistreatment by Hamline,” they went on.
This lawsuit is reportedly attempting to secure compensation for lost wages, future lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages, as reported by the local news outlet.
“Now, whenever she applies to any of these colleges for a tenure track position, and they just happen to Google her name, it’s inextricably intertwined with this allegation of Islamophobia,” exclaimed David Redden, the attorney for Prater, as part of an interview hosted on FOX 9. “So I think it’s going to have serious repercussions on her efforts to find a tenure track position and really get her career going.”
“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,” explained the university in a release once the lawsuit had been made public.
Prater handed out a syllabus for the fall class which issued a warning to students that the course would go over and utilize images of religious figures, which would include the found of Islam, Muhammad. The instructor also reportedly issued additional warnings to students just a few minutes prior to revealing the images in case any students thought that they should leave the classroom for the period.
In the incident which resulted in her firing, the professor shares a pair of paintings which included a highly famous 14th-century painting depicting Muhammad and the archangel Gabriel and another painting from the 16th century showing Muhammad with a veil and halo.
One senior student taking the course quickly rushed to complain to the school heads, who in the end chose to fire and entirely cut ties with the professor.
“In lieu of this incident, it was decided it was best that this faculty member was no longer part of the Hamline community,” announced Hamline’s associate vice president for inclusive excellence, David Everett, in a release to The Oracle.
“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,” claimed Hamline University President Fayneese Miller in a letter sent out to students back in December.