The Hamline University Incident on Repeat
Unbelief Brief
April 24, 2023
A depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in the classroom is once again making waves and sparking investigations.

Another stateside blasphemy investigation

A depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in the classroom is once again making waves and sparking investigations—and it is once again happening in the United States.

Following the Hamline University incident, another seems to have cropped up, this time at San Francisco State University. Professor Maziar Behrooz reportedly showed in class a “drawing” of the Prophet Muhammad “while teaching a lesson on the history of the Islamic world.” As FIRE’s Sabrina Conza explains:

Behrooz even reportedly explained to administrators that the type of drawing he showed can be bought at markets near holy shrines in Tehran, where Behrooz was born. But after a student complained in the fall, the institution chose to launch an investigation in March — months later.

This case, as was the case in the Hamline incident, is a blatant and egregious violation both of Behrooz’s First Amendment rights (as an employee at a publicly-funded school) and of the principles of secularism and free expression. Nonetheless, as of April the 12th, SFSU has as yet refused to cease their “investigation” but has instead doubled down:

… SFSU committed to swiftly “address the concerns raised by all involved in this complaint” and blamed the “systemwide antidiscrimination policies” for its investigation, but did not say it would end its investigation of Behrooz.

Insults against the Prophet…

A nearly daily occurrence in Pakistan: someone accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad arrested for blasphemy.

A noteworthy if still extremely common element: a mob swarmed the police station threateningly, demanding justice for the “crime.”

One more unique element: the victim of the charge is a Chinese worker.

Reuters reported that the man was actually lifted by “military helicopter” from the city in which he allegedly blasphemed for his own protection. Furthermore:

[A police official] said the crowd attacked the police station as officers were preparing the prosecution paperwork on Monday. ‘The mob dispersed only after they were shown a copy of the case registered on blasphemy charges,’ he said.

…and claims of prophethood

Another arrest for blasphemy in Pakistan involves a less common but still recurring variety of insult against Islam: someone (with clear mental health issues) claiming that they themselves are an Islamic prophet and facing legal punishment for it.

This is what has recently happened to a Pakistani woman, whose family have been clear that she suffers from mental health ailments and has been receiving treatment for them. On Friday the 14th of April, she was arrested.

Two others, apparent co-blasphemers, were also arrested along with her.

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