PRESS RELEASE: CAIR-Chicago Dismayed by Wheaton College Suspension of Professor Hawkins

CAIR-Chicago Invites Wheaton College to Public Dialogue with Muslim and Christian Theologians as a way to dispel misunderstanding.

(CHICAGO, IL., 12/16/15) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) expressed dismay over Wheaton College’s decision to place a tenured professor on administrative leave after she wore a headscarf as part of her Christian advent devotion, in an effort to show solidarity with Muslims. CAIR-Chicago calls on the college to strongly consider repealing the decision and reinstating the popular professor.

SEE: Chicago Tribune: Wheaton College students back Christian professor who wore a hijab 

Political Science Professor, Larycia Hawkins expressed her concern for Muslim students at Wheaton and elsewhere in the current atmosphere of anti-Muslim backlash following San Bernardino and the surrounding political hysteria, particularly the most vulnerable, those who don the religious headscarf.

“I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity,” she wrote on Facebook.

CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, said that Wheaton’s decision to suspend Hawkins sends all the wrong messages to the public. “This was a genuine act of human solidarity, rooted in her sense of theological compassion, with those who are subjected to an onslaught of bigoted expression,” Rehab said. “Rather than applaud Hawkins for being a positive public representation of Christianity and its root concept of compassion, she is instead accused of undermining Christian beliefs. That to me is unfathomable.”

Rehab also addressed the College’s rebuke of Hawkins’ position that “Muslims are people of the book who worship the same God.”

Rehab said: “Muslims believe in the God of Abraham, as do Christians and Jews. It is true that Muslims do not believe that Jesus is God or the son of God, but neither do Jews. Does Wheaton College then also take the position that Jews worship a different God or that the Old Testament, which is part of the Christian Bible, preaches a different God? It is hard to take a position against Hawkins’ factual statement, without getting mired in that awkward duplicity,” he said.

CAIR-Chicago is hoping Wheaton College will accept its open invitation to join with Muslim and other Christian scholars in a genuine public conversation on religion and community in order to improve mutual understanding.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 312-212-1520, cell 202-870-0166,; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Renner Larson, 312-212-1520,