WHEATON, Ill. — A number of students from a prominent Christian-identified university are demanding that school officials reinstate an associate political science director who posted photos of herself wearing an Islamic hijab, stating that she was doing so to show solidarity with Muslims.
As previously reported, Larycia Hawkins posted to Facebook two photos of herself wearing a hijab last Thursday, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she plans to wear it everywhere she goes during the Advent—including at the Christian college and to church.
“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind—a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014,” Hawkins wrote.
She said that not only does she have a common ancestry with Muslims, but that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins asserted. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
Hawkins said that wearing the hijab is part of her Christmas worship, and that she is seeking to combat what she perceives to be “Islamophobia” in society.
“As part of my Advent worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church,” she wrote.
The professor stated that her wish for the season would be to see a “large-scale movement” of women wearing hijabs in solidarity with Muslims, noting that she even obtained approval from the Council on American-Islamic relations.
Hawkins’ post quickly drew controversy, with some supporting her mission and others expressing concern. As a result, Wheaton officials suspended the professor and placed on review.
“In response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam, Wheaton College has placed her on administrative leave, pending the full review to which she is entitled as a tenured faculty member,” it said on Tuesday.
Now, Wheaton students are protesting and have launched a petition calling for Hawkins to be reinstated.
“In the midst of a toxic socio-political environment where Muslims are the target of stigmatization, acts of aggression, and proposed policy which targets and alienates them, Dr. Hawkins acted in love and in solidarity to be an example of how Christ would respond,” the petition reads in part.
“There is nothing in Dr. Hawkins’ public statements that goes against the belief in the power and nature of God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit that the Statement of Faith deems as a necessary requirement for affiliation with Wheaton College,” it says.
Over 2,200 supporters have signed the petition, including those not affiliated with the college. But not all students agree with the professor.
“To say we worship the same God is completely not true,” student Nathan Simon told WLS-TV. “And it misrepresents the student body. It misrepresents the institution itself.”
Hawkins had posted a follow-up statement on Sunday holding to her belief that Christian and Muslims worship the same God, sharing articles on the subject published by the Huffington Post and Christianity Today. She remarked that she still loves those who “count [her] apostate for daring to call fellow humans who happen to be Muslim [her] brothers and sisters.”
“In her most recent statement, Dr. Hawkins seems committed to her personal theological stance, as stated in social media posts and subsequent media interviews; she has not yet reconciled her beliefs with the college’s theological position,” Wheaton College officials wrote in an updated statement on Wednesday. “[The review process] will include an assessment of her views related to our Statement of Faith through respectful and fair dialogue on these matters of strategic importance to our institutional identity and mission.”