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Hijab-wearer suspended by US college

01 January 2016

AP

Solidarity with "people of the book": Dr Larycia Hawkins at a news conference in Chicago, on 16 December

Solidarity with "people of the book": Dr Larycia Hawkins at a news conference in Chicago, on 16 December

A CHRISTIAN professor of an Evangelical college in the United States, who wore a hijab during Advent and suggested that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, has been suspended.

Dr Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, Illinois, was placed on paid administrative leave last month owing to "significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements" she made about Islam and Christianity on Facebook, the college said in a statement.

Dr Hawkins wrote in a post on Facebook on 10 December that she stood in religious solidarity with Muslims because "they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," and so "worship the same God". In recognition of this, she would be wearing a hijab as part of her "Advent worship", she wrote. She said that she had the blessing of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to do so.

"So please do not fear joining this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic sentimentality," she wrote. "Document your own experiences of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs #wish." Dr Harris began to wear her scarf in public the next day.

The day after her suspension, the President of the college, Dr Philip Ryken, reiterated that the institution had "no stated position" on the wearing of headscarves as a "gesture of care and concern" for Muslims or other religious communities, and that all Americans had the "right to the free exercise of religion".

Hostility and hate crimes against Muslims in the US are on the in-crease since a married couple killed 14 people in California in an attack said to have been inspired by Is-lamic State (IS) (News, 4 December 2015).

On the day of her suspension, Dr Hawkins stood by her decision in another Facebook post, signed "Your sister in solidarity with the hijab".

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