The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is demanding the reinstatement of an adjunct professor fired for displaying an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in class.
Erika López Prater, an adjunct art history professor at Minnesota's Hamline University, was fired after a student complained about images of Muhammad in her course.
Prater issued a syllabus warning students that the class would contain images of holy figures, including the prophet Muhammad and the Buddha. Students were told they could contact her with any concerns about the course material, and none did, according a report from the New York Times.
Prater also reportedly warned students that a painting containing an image of Muhammad was going to be displayed a few minutes ahead of time, giving anyone who might be offended by such imagery an opportunity to leave the classroom.
"It is with great concern that the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) views the firing of an art professor, Erika López Prater, from Hamline University on the grounds of showing a fourteenth-century painting depicting the Prophet Muḥammad," an official statement from MPAC read. "We issue this statement of support for the professor and urge the university to reverse its decision and to take compensatory action to ameliorate the situation."
In the statement released Monday, MPAC argued that the artwork was displayed tastefully and for the sake of education on the variance of beliefs among Muslims.
"As a Muslim organization, we recognize the validity and ubiquity of an Islamic viewpoint that discourages or forbids any depictions of the Prophet, especially if done in a distasteful or disrespectful manner," the MPAC statement read. "However, we also recognize the historical reality that other viewpoints have existed and that there have been some Muslims, including and especially Shīʿī Muslims, who have felt no qualms in pictorially representing the Prophet (although often veiling his face out of respect)."
Hamline University President Fayneese Miller penned a letter to students last month apologizing for the incident, arguing that not offending the school's Muslim students was more important than academic freedom.
"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projected on a screen and left for many minutes—respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom," Miller said in the letter.
Fox News' Michael Lee contributed to this report.