MINNEAPOLIS — The national arm of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has issued a statement to "clarify" its official position after Hamline University let go an art history professor who showed an image of Muḥammad in her class last fall.
Friday's statement contradicts early comments from local CAIR-Minnesota executive director Jaylani Hussei and the Muslim student who complained.
They both said former Hamline professor Erika López Prater engaged in Islamophobia, but CAIR'S national executive disagreed.
"Although CAIR's national headquarters normally does not comment on local issues that arise in states with one of our state chapters, we must sometimes speak up to clarify where our entire organization stands on issues of national concern," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a news release.
"This is one of those times."
CAIR said Friday that its "official position" is that the academic study of ancient paintings depicting Muhammad "does not, by itself, constitute Islamophobia."
CAIR added that they've seen "no evidence" that former Hamline University professor Erika Lopez Prater had bigoted intent or engaged in Islamophobia during her course last semester.
In her syllabus for the fall semester, professor Erika López Prater reportedly warned that images of religious figures such as Muhammad and Buddha would be shown in her course. Many Muslims believe Muhammad should not be depicted, but not all.
López Prater asked students to contact her if they had concerns, but no one did, according to The New York Times, the publication that first broke the story.
But after López Prater showed a 14th-century work depicting the founder of Islam was shown in class, student Aram Wedatalla complained to the administration.
Subsequently, Hamline's vice president for inclusive excellence sent out a statement in a university-wide email calling López Prater's actions "undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic."
López Prater was also told that her services were no longer needed.
López Prater is now teaching at Macalester College, and is considering legal action following the incident, Minnesota Public Radio reported.