A professor at an Evangelical Protestant Christian College in Illinois was put on administrative leave earlier this week, after an exercise in "embodied solidarity" with Muslims -- and her explanation for the project -- were received poorly by the school's administration.
Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at Wheaton College wrote on her Facebook that she would don a hijab (consulting the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for more information on how to do it respectfully) in order to better empathize and show solidarity toward "Muslim sisters" who have to deal with Islamophobic vitriol every day.
"I don't love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American. I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity. 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..." Hawkins wrote in her Facebook post. "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God. But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity."
In a statement, the administration of Wheaton College defended their decision and the differences they believe exist between the religions: "While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God's revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer," The Chicago Tribune reports.
The college's statement also said that "Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution's faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity. As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college's evangelical Statement of Faith."
However, Hawkins said in a follow-up post that much of the "pushback" she had received was "almost exclusively from other Christians" who took issue with her claim that Muslims and Christians were both "people of the book" who worship the same god.
"My wearing of the hijab as an act of advent devotion has certainly caused some to question the sincerity of my devotion," Hawkins wrote in the post. "To those who question the authenticity of my faith, I love you."
Since her suspension, the Tribune reports that students have rallied to see Hawkins reinstated by delivering a letter to the college's president, circulating an online petition and sharing experiences they've had with the beloved professor using the hashtag #ReinstateDocHawk.
MTV News has reached out to Larycia Hawkins and Wheaton College for comment.