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Professor who wore hijab at US Christian college resigns

Hawkins' act came amid a surge of Islamophobia following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California
Dr Larycia Hawkins was placed on administrative leave from Wheaton College in December (Wikicommons)

A professor at a US Christian college who courted controversy after donning a hijab in solidarity with Muslims has agreed to leave her tenured position.

Dr. Larycia Hawkins was placed on administrative leave from Wheaton College in December after posting a picture of herself wearing a hijab on Facebook.

Hawkins said she was standing "in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book."

Her statement came amid a swell of Islamophobia in the wake of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

Prior to her resignation, Muslim and Christian religious leaders started a public campaign calling for Hawkins to be reinstated in her post that has attracted more than 80,000 signatures to an online petition.

In a letter to the college, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, the board chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, said that her actions were a “tangible act of love and solidarity with her American and global neighbours, at a time when peaceful Muslims are experiencing rising levels of hate, denouncement, and violence”.

Hawkins was also backed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which said her decision to don a hijab had been inspired by a group of Wheaton students who planned to wear the headscarf while flying home for the end-of-year holidays, amid growing concerns about increasing anti-Muslim prejudice in the US.

The school faced a backlash in which it was accused of bigotry and curtailing academic freedom.

Administrators at the suburban Chicago evangelical college said the problem was not the fact that Hawkins donned a hijab, but that she wrote, "we worship the same God".

The idea that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is a direct contradiction of the core of the college's statement of faith, which affirms that salvation is achieved through Christ alone.

Faculty and staff members are expected to commit to "accept and model" the college's statement of faith with "integrity, compassion and theological clarity," Wheaton said in a statement.

While Hawkins received a groundswell of support that included demonstrations on campus, some Muslims also expressed unease at her assertions that they share the same God.

Some also criticised her very act of wearing a hijab.

After initiating a termination process in January, the college and Hawkins said in a joint statement Monday that they "found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation".

The statement said the two parties reached "a confidential agreement under which they will part ways".