Duke University reverses decision, will not allow Muslim
In the face of mounting controversy, Duke University reversed itself Thursday afternoon and announced it will not allow a Muslim call to prayer from its iconic chapel Friday.
The Durham university had said earlier in the week it would permit a weekly, three-minute chant by members of the Duke Muslim Students Association to be “moderately amplified” via speakers in the Duke Chapel’s bell tower.
That decision was met with growing anger in some corners of social media and elsewhere. Evangelist Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, denounced the move Wednesday and called for people to stop funding Duke until it reversed its decision.
“What began as something that was meant to be unifying was turning into something that was the opposite,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “It was clear we needed to reconsider.”
A Duke administrator had earlier touted the move as a way to promote religious inclusiveness at the school. But the university received hundreds of calls and emails, “many of which were quite vitriolic,” Schoenfeld said. “The level of vitriol in the responses was unlike any other controversy we have seen here in quite some time.”
There also were security concerns, Schoenfeld added.
Muslim community members will instead gather on the quadrangle outside the chapel and do the call to prayer, called the “adhan,” before moving to their regular location in the chapel basement for prayers. They have met there for the past several years.
More than 700 of Duke’s 14,850 students identify themselves as Muslim, according to the university.
‘Not a religion of peace’
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