When Hamline University student Aram Wedatalla was shown a fourteenth-century painting of Muhammad receiving the Quran from the angel Gabriel during her art history class, she went to complain to the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Although Adjunct Professor Erika López Prater repeatedly warned that she would show the picture, Ms. Wedatalla hung around to be offended.
And when Hamline University decided not to renew Professor López Prater’s contract, CAIR’s Minnesota Director Jaylani Hussein held a press conference welcoming the university’s decision to part ways with the teacher.
He did not have to say anything. But getting people fired, or cheering when they lose their job, is simply something Jaylani Hussein does frequently on TV. Except this time, nobody was agreeing with him.
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. 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.
PEN America called it “one of the most egregious violations of academic freedom in recent memory.”
Mr. Islamophobia himself, Todd Green, the author of a propaganda screed entitled The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West, was reported in the New York Times as saying that the administration’s handling of the matter was a mistake.
To determine what constitutes an act of anti-Muslim bigotry or discrimination, we always consider intent, actions and circumstances…
We see no evidence that Professor Erika López Prater acted with Islamophobic intent or engaged in conduct that meets our definition of Islamophobia… Academics should not be condemned as bigots without evidence or lose their positions without justification.
This was the exact opposite of what Jaylani Hussein said.
CAIR National’s need to distinguish itself from one of its executive directors is further evidence of Jaylani Hussein’s failure. He did not have to say anything about the teacher, but when he took on Aram Wedatalla as a client, he did the best he could for her. He put her on TV and backed her 100%.
He apparently did not consider whether or not his position was anti-Western civilization, anti-American, or anti- any kind of authority, in general. Even an authority as trivial as that of a Starbucks barista. Recall Jaylani Hussein’s handling of a misspelled Starbucks cup: when a woman named Aisha received her Starbucks cup with the word “Isis” written on it, she went to CAIR. Jaylani Hussein took her on as a client and did the best he could do for her, as he did for Aram Wedatalla. He put her on TV and backed her 100% by demanding that Starbucks fire somebody. In his zeal, Jaylani rose to new levels of ridiculousness by calling for an outside investigation into the misspelled Starbucks cup.
KARE ran this story and tried to sell us on the idea that this was actually news. Its report was complete with tender background music. KARE’s Jana Shortal made it seem as if the misspelling was part of a group with three other stories:
- the painting over of a Black Lives Matter mural;
- a white woman pulling a gun on a black woman who wouldn’t let the white woman leave, and;
- two teen employees of Jimmy John’s who made a noose out of dough.
But there was never any explanation of how these different things were related. In fact, this was an attempt to sell us the ideas that a misspelled Starbucks cup was news and that CAIR are legitimate, responsible, professional, honorable, authoritative, as well as on the idea that Jaylani Hussein was a leader.
The trouble for Jaylani is that this time, nobody is buying that.