University of Toronto Scarborough, ON – The Muslim Students' Association (MSA) at the University of Toronto Scarborough is calling on the university to take action against a professor who displayed an Islamophobic image of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in class last November.
According to the MSA, on November 11, 2022, an English Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Joel Rodgers, displayed an extremely disrespectful islamophobic image of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which goes against Islamic teachings. All of the Prophets are to be treated with a high degree of respect in Islam, whether it be Jesus, Moses or Muhammad, peace be upon all of them. It is also Islamically impermissible to depict an image of any of the Prophets.
The image in question showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ engaging in homosexual PDA (public display of affection) with a male cartoon that was wearing a shirt that said: “Je suis Charlie” which translates to “I am Charlie”. The image was titled L’Amour plus fort que la haine translating to “love is stronger than hate”.
When a Muslim student expressed concern about the image during office hours on November 25th, the professor was dismissive, making statements such as “If I don’t respect Christianity why should I do that for Islam?” and “If I stop presenting this it would justify the shooting of 17 people”. The professor was also hesitant to consider including a content warning.
The MSA is demanding that the university take action to address the incident, including the removal of the image from the curriculum content for all future offerings of ENGC48, a practical commitment to not depicting any image of any Islamic Prophets at UTSC spaces going forward, a public acknowledgement to all students that the use of this image and the lack of framing was incorrect, and mandatory anti-Islamophobia training for Professor Joel Rodgers.
The student reached out to the UTSC MSA on January 9th, 2023, and the MSA has since been working with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to advocate for their demands. Despite multiple meetings with university officials, little to no tangible action steps have been taken to address the concerns of the MSA.
The Muslim community at the University of Toronto Scarborough deserves to feel safe and respected on campus. The MSA and NCCM are urging the university to take meaningful action to address this incident and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.