Fired Professor Responds After Being Fired Over Sharing Images

( A university professor who was fired for showing images of Muhammad in her art class last fall has filed a lawsuit against the school.

Dr. Erika Lopez Prater, who lost her job at Hamline University in Minnesota after she used images of Muhammad in a course on Islamic art, filed suit on Tuesday accusing Hamline of religious discrimination, defamation, and other violations of the law.

According to Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul, attorneys for Lopez Prater argue that Hamline’s actions against their client “caused significant damage,” forcing her to lose income and suffer “significant emotional distress due to her mistreatment by Hamline.”

The lawsuit seeks compensation for lost wages and future lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages.

In a phone interview with Fox 9, Lopez Prater’s attorney David Redden said after Hamline’s actions, if Lopez Prater applies for a tenure position elsewhere, the colleges who Google her name will see she is “inextricably intertwined with this allegation of Islamophobia.”

Redden said Hamline’s actions will have “serious repercussions” to find another job “and really get her career going.”

When asked how the controversy has affected his client’s life, Redden said it hasn’t been easy. He said he believes there are times when Lopez Prater feels like “she’s the crazy one and that everybody else sees something that she didn’t, but that is not the case.”

After the lawsuit was filed, Hamline University issued a statement claiming it strongly supports academic freedom but believes academic freedom should co-exist with support for students.

The university did not specifically address the lawsuit. Instead, the statement said that the University has since learned a lot from Islamic scholars “from around the world” about the “complexity of displaying images of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Hamline said it would be holding two “conversations” in the coming months, one focusing on academic freedom and student care and a second focusing on academic freedom and religion.

Lopez Prater’s attorney told Fox 9 that Hamline’s comments don’t change the facts of the lawsuit.

“The damages to my client have been done, and they’re lasting,” Redden added.