Duke caves, bans Muslim call to prayer from chapel bell tower

Duke University caved in to pressure and reversed its politically correct decision to permit weekly Muslim calls to prayer to ring out from its iconic chapel bell tower.  The University’s official statement:

Duke University has reconsidered a previously announced plan to present a traditional Muslim call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, campus officials said Thursday.

The call to prayer, or “adhan,” which announces the start of a weekly jummah prayer service that has been held in the Chapel basement for the past several years, will not come from the bell tower on Friday as announced earlier.

“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

Jummah prayers have taken place in the basement of Duke Chapel for many years, and start with the traditional call to prayer chant. Members of the Muslim community will now gather for the call-to-prayer chant on the quadrangle outside the Chapel, a site of frequent interfaith programs and activities, before moving to its regular location for prayers. More than 700 of Duke’s 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students identify as Muslim.

“Our Muslim community enriches the university in countless ways,” said Schoenfeld. “We welcome the active expression of their faith tradition, and all others, in ways that are meaningful and visible.”

You have to admire the amount of effort that went into crafting such a vague statement as “it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”  Pardon my cynicism, but the call from North Carolina-based Franklin Graham may have had more influence than the university wants to admit to.  The Charlotte Observer reports:

 Evangelist Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Associationdenounced the move Wednesday and called for people to stop funding Duke until it reversed its decision.

The university is vaguely alluding to threats of violence, without directly saying so:

…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.

Keep in mind that the call to prayer is not being forbidden; it is simply not being relocated to the highest point on the campus.  Rev. Graham clearly understood the symbolic significance:

“As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” Graham wrote on Facebook.

In an interview Thursday before the reversal, Graham told The Charlotte Observer that Duke should not allow the chapel to be used for the call to prayer. “It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” he said. “Using the bell tower, that signifies worship of Jesus Christ. Using (it) as a minaret is wrong.”

Hagia Sophia, the cathedral built in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the sixth century, is the most prominent but by no means the sole example of a Christian house of worship converted into a mosque once Islam conquered the land on which it stands.  Note the added minarets:

Converting the bell tower on campus into a de facto part-time minaret carries deep symbolic importance, just as the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City would have.  At both Duke and Ground Zero, elites in charge had no problem but were forced to back down when public opinion rose up in protest.

It is quite clear that public opinion in the United States grasps the nature of jihad more clearly than PC-obsessed elites.  Duke backed down quickly because it understood that donors would be turned off.

By the way, Duke seems to have a disproportionately large representation of Muslim students on campus – 700 out of 15,000 total.  That is close to 5%, while Muslims in the United States account for much less than 2% of the population.  I mention this only because racial bean0counters rule in academia.  (I am for race-blind admissions and don’t care if Jews and Asians, for instance, are overrepresented.  But PC academia is selectively concerned about the over-representation of some groups.)  I wonder how many of these Muslim students are from overseas, and specifically from Saudi Arabia.  In  many universities, full tuition-paying Saudis carry a lot of financial weight.

Duke University caved in to pressure and reversed its politically correct decision to permit weekly Muslim calls to prayer to ring out from its iconic chapel bell tower.  The University’s official statement:

Duke University has reconsidered a previously announced plan to present a traditional Muslim call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, campus officials said Thursday.

The call to prayer, or “adhan,” which announces the start of a weekly jummah prayer service that has been held in the Chapel basement for the past several years, will not come from the bell tower on Friday as announced earlier.

“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

Jummah prayers have taken place in the basement of Duke Chapel for many years, and start with the traditional call to prayer chant. Members of the Muslim community will now gather for the call-to-prayer chant on the quadrangle outside the Chapel, a site of frequent interfaith programs and activities, before moving to its regular location for prayers. More than 700 of Duke’s 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students identify as Muslim.

“Our Muslim community enriches the university in countless ways,” said Schoenfeld. “We welcome the active expression of their faith tradition, and all others, in ways that are meaningful and visible.”

You have to admire the amount of effort that went into crafting such a vague statement as “it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”  Pardon my cynicism, but the call from North Carolina-based Franklin Graham may have had more influence than the university wants to admit to.  The Charlotte Observer reports:

 Evangelist Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Associationdenounced the move Wednesday and called for people to stop funding Duke until it reversed its decision.

The university is vaguely alluding to threats of violence, without directly saying so:

…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.

Keep in mind that the call to prayer is not being forbidden; it is simply not being relocated to the highest point on the campus.  Rev. Graham clearly understood the symbolic significance:

“As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” Graham wrote on Facebook.

In an interview Thursday before the reversal, Graham told The Charlotte Observer that Duke should not allow the chapel to be used for the call to prayer. “It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” he said. “Using the bell tower, that signifies worship of Jesus Christ. Using (it) as a minaret is wrong.”

Hagia Sophia, the cathedral built in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the sixth century, is the most prominent but by no means the sole example of a Christian house of worship converted into a mosque once Islam conquered the land on which it stands.  Note the added minarets:

Converting the bell tower on campus into a de facto part-time minaret carries deep symbolic importance, just as the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City would have.  At both Duke and Ground Zero, elites in charge had no problem but were forced to back down when public opinion rose up in protest.

It is quite clear that public opinion in the United States grasps the nature of jihad more clearly than PC-obsessed elites.  Duke backed down quickly because it understood that donors would be turned off.

By the way, Duke seems to have a disproportionately large representation of Muslim students on campus – 700 out of 15,000 total.  That is close to 5%, while Muslims in the United States account for much less than 2% of the population.  I mention this only because racial bean0counters rule in academia.  (I am for race-blind admissions and don’t care if Jews and Asians, for instance, are overrepresented.  But PC academia is selectively concerned about the over-representation of some groups.)  I wonder how many of these Muslim students are from overseas, and specifically from Saudi Arabia.  In  many universities, full tuition-paying Saudis carry a lot of financial weight.