Open Letter to the President of Hamline University

Additional support for our 10 January 2023 Letter


Dear President Fayneese S. Miller  

President of Hamline University 


As professors who teach subjects related to Islam, Muslim culture, and the Islamic world, we write to respectfully express our disagreement with your statement that respect for Muslim students “should have superseded academic freedom.” Some of us are practicing Muslims while others are secular Muslims, people from different religious backgrounds, or outright atheists. What unites us is our interest in Islamic theology, history, sociology, anthropology, art, mysticism, and poetry.

Professor Erika López Prater’s display of a 14th-century miniature of Prophet Muhammad was in no way disrespectful even to those Muslims who frown on such depictions. Of course, the prohibition of the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad is far from a universal Islamic injunction, as evidenced by the very image shown in this class. We believe that Hamline University ought to extend an apology to Professor Prater and indicate that she would be welcomed should she wish to return and teach at that institution.

We are united in the belief that images and materials that might be perceived as offensive to various creeds, ethnic groups, and nationalities could be shared in academic settings, where there is no intent to offend or harm anyone. In academia, we put even the offensive materials within a critical framework to understand why they were created and what function they performed or continue to perform within their socio-cultural settings.



Ervand Abrahamian, Professor Emeritus, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Reza Afshari, Professor Emeritus, Pace University

Kazem Alamdari, Retired Professor, California State University, Northridge

Abbas Amanat, Professor Emeritus, Yale University

Hooshang Amirahmadi, Professor, Rutgers University 

Touraj Atabaki, Senior Researcher, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam 

Fakhreddin Azimi, Professor, University of Connecticut

Houchang Chehabi, Professor Emeritus, Boston University

Touraj Darayee, Professor, UC Irvine

Aria Fani, Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Mansour Farhang, Retired Professor, Bennington Colleg

Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, Professor, Utrecht University

Mohammad Ali Kadivar, Assistant Professor, Boston College

Mohsen Kadivar, Professor, Duke University

Hossein Kamaly, Professor. Hartford international University for Religion and Peace

Mehrak Kamali-Sarvestani, Senior Lecturer, Ohio State University

Ranin Kazemi, Associate Professor, San Diego State University

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor, University of Maryland

Farhad Khosrokhavar, professor Emeritus, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

Ali Akbar Mahdi, Professor Emeritus, Ohio Wesleyan University

Afshin Marashi, Professor, University of Oklahoma

Afshin Matin-asgari, Professor, California State University

Farzaneh Milani, Professor, University of Virginia

Mansoor Moaddel, Professor, University of Maryland

Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor, San Francisco State University

Valentine M. Moghadam, Professor, Northeastern University

Manijeh Moradian, Assistant Professor, Barnard College

Azar Nafisi, Retired Professor, Johns Hopkins University

Arash Naraghi, Associate Professor, Moravian University

Arzoo Osanloo, Professor, University of Washington

Misagh Parsa, Professor Emeritus, Dartmouth College

Ahmad Sadri, Professor, Lake Forest College

Mahmoud Sadri, Professor, Texas Woman’s University

Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, Professor, Utrecht University

Sima Shakhsari, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

Fatemeh Shams, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania 

Mona Tajali, Associate Professor, Agnes Scott College

Kamran Talattof, Professor, University of Arizona

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Professor, University of Toronto

Nayereh Tohidi, Professor Emerita, California State University, Northridge


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