How did Wheaton get here? Here are the highlights (and more than one little-publicized anecdote) into one timeline.
Coming on the heels of Mattel’s release of Barbies with different body types comes “Hijarbie,” or Barbie in hijab. Hijarbie is the creation of the 24-year-old Nigerian woman Haneefah Adam, and will be available at major toy retailers in the U.S.
What is revealed to the world at the Epiphany in the Incarnation is that God’s language to the world is embodied Love. Jesus, whom Muslims revere as a prophet, is the message of God’s love for those who were previously deemed beyond love’s boundaries. What Jesus reveals through his life, death, and resurrection is that it is we humans who cast out, and God who draws in. God’s love excludes no one. Jesus is God’s revelation that Love has no boundaries.
Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins says she is “flummoxed and flabbergasted” by the evangelical flagship’s decision to begin dismissal proceedings against her for expressing the belief that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Speaking at a press conference in the sanctuary of Chicago’s First United Methodist Church on Jan. 6, Hawkins reiterated that she has not wavered from the college’s statement of faith.
“Wheaton College cannot scare me into walking away from the truth (that) all humans — Muslims, the vulnerable, the oppressed of any ilk — are all my sisters and brothers, and I am called by Jesus to walk with them,” she said.
Since the Dec. 2 attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has received more than a dozen phone calls from Muslim Americans locally reporting a variety of workplace discrimination and harassment complaints. Of those calls, one has triggered a lawsuit, and two similar workplace suits are in the works, said Fatina Abdrabboh, executive director of the Michigan office, who hopes the litigation sends a message to employers.
“We’re watching. This stuff can’t go unchecked … and if you think of putting someone in the back room or letting them go because of the headscarf, you can’t do it,” said Abdrabboh, who urges the public and employers not to “feed into this rhetoric against us.”
Maybe, as my alma mater Wheaton College would contend, it really is about doctrinal precision. Maybe for the sake of intellectual and spiritual integrity, there is a need to parry the ontological and epistemological arguments and counter-arguments, to determine the appropriate professional future of Dr. Larycia Hawkins, who dared to say on her Facebook page on Dec. 10 that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” But these issues look and feel differently in a place like Jos, Nigeria — where I was born to American missionary parents, six thousand miles from Wheaton’s campus chapel.
Wheaton College in Illinois announced on Tuesday that they had put Hawkins on administrative leave for her “same God” comments. In an official statement, college administrators expressed concern over the “theological implications” of her statements and promising a full review.
Founded in 1860, Wheaton has long been considered a fairly open-minded institution within evangelicalism. Science professors can teach evolution, government professors need not support conservative political theories, and students don’t have to worry about strict dress codes or stringent curfews like students at more fundamentalist colleges. In 2003, it eased bans on alcohol consumption and dancing.
But a string of politically charged events, culminating in Hawkins’ suspension, place Wheaton at an important crossroads. The school must now decide what kind of evangelical college they wish to be.
In northern Nigeria, mounting fears of militant female suicide bombers have raised calls to ban the hijab, or the veil that covers the head, chest and, in some cases, the entire body.
Last week, four women believed to be members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram carried out attacks in Kano, a city in northern Nigeria. Men belonging to the group have taken to wearing the hijab, too, according to reports.
On July 27, a female suicide bomber detonated a bomb outside a Roman Catholic church in Kano, killing four people and injuring 70. Around the same time, security agencies arrested two girls aged 10 and 18 with explosive belts under their hijabs.
“We have this worrying situation where the bombers are turning out to be girls dressed in the hijab,” Roman Catholic Bishop John Niyiring of Kano said.
Banning the hijab is crucial to curbing the trend, said Emmanuel Akubor, a historian at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife in western Nigeria.
“The best thing for now is to place a temporary ban on hijab, not for religious, but security reasons,” he told News Agency of Nigeria.
But Niyiring said he thinks such a ban would be resisted.
Thousands of Iranian women are sending photos of themselves without their hijab, or veil, to a new London-based Facebook page dedicated to allowing them “stealthy freedoms.”
The Facebook page — called “Stealthy Freedom of Iranian Women” — was set up by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad and has attracted almost 150,000 likes.
Alinejad told the Guardian, which first reported about the site, that she has been inundated with messages and photos since launching it May 3.
“I’ve hardly slept in the past three days because of the number of pictures and messages I’ve received,” she told the newspaper.
The photos show women — sans veil — in parks, on the beach, or on the street.
An Iraqi woman dons a black hijab but bares her thighs. A Lebanese woman wearing a sheer blouse curls up on a bed, both innocent and seductive. An attractive young Iranian couple shares breakfast at a small table, seemingly oblivious to the tank looming just a few yards away.
There are no harems, belly dancers, or male oppressors in this photography show, nor any of the other Middle Eastern stereotypes that Westerners generally associate with that far away, often misunderstood, region.
“She Who Tells a Story,” a photo exhibit now showing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and headed to other U.S. museums, features the work of 12 women from the Middle East who shatter stereotypes with works that are provocative, beautiful, mysterious, and surprising, all at the same time.