Duke University Changes Location of Call To Prayer Due To Security Threat


The administration of Duke University has reversed the decision to allow the Adhan or call to prayer to be sung each Friday from the bell tower of Duke Chapel citing a “credible and serious security threat,” according to vice president of public affairs and government relations, Michael Scheonfeld.

Initially, there was a bit of confusion as to the actual details behind the change and the cause for it, but the university later released updated information to outline the details more thoroughly. The new location of where the Adhan will be held was also released and students interested in joining in will be able to do so on the quadrangle in front of the Chapel, according to The Chronicle.

The change comes just two days after the university announced the addition of the Adhan to the Duke Muslim Students Association’s weekly Jummah prayer service that takes place in the basement of the Chapel.

In the Duke Today article, Schoenfeld said, “Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all students. However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

For many, the inclusion of the Adhan was a welcome way to unify the student body and celebrate their differing faiths as the director of Duke’s Islamic Studies Center claimed in an email to The Huffington Post. He wrote, “Almost everyone that has written in has celebrated it as a sign of Duke University’s commitment to creating a welcoming and pluralistic community.”

However, it didn’t take long for those in opposition of the university’s support of their Muslim students and faculty, to chime in.

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, was among the most vocal criticizers as he quickly took to Facebook to post about his thoughts on the Duke announcement multiple times.

Graham wrote, “Duke University announced today that they will have a Muslim call to prayer from their chapel bell tower every Friday. 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. I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”

Once word spread of Duke’s decision, Graham was pleased as he made yet another Facebook post saying, “I am glad to hear that Duke University reversed its decision to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast from its chapel bell tower. They made the right decision!”

According to WRAL News, Graham felt justified in his posting and his call for donation revocation. He said, “I don’t feel I owe an apology to anybody. I think Duke University, they owe an apology. They’re the ones who owe the apology to Christian students and the ones who donated money for the chapel.”

The response from the Duke community to the criticism and decision’s reversal has been one of support and positivity as is evident by the posts and comments on the original Facebook event page that was created prior to Thursday’s press release. Students and alumni of all faiths are joining together to drive out the negativity surrounding the situation in an attempt to show their support.

One post read, “I live in Durham and am an alumna of Duke Graduate School. I’m not a religious person, but I support religious pluralism. I support the Muslim Students Association and the Adhan at Duke Chapel going ahead tomorrow.”

Another said, “Hi friends, I can’t wait to stand with you at the call to prayer tomorrow! I know many of you are feeling the sting of hateful and bigoted comments, and even threats. As a Christian friend, I can’t know what that’s like – but I will be there with you tomorrow, decked out in green clothing. I am praying for your ability to pray safely. P.S. Fellow Christians, please invite all of your friends, and come out as well!”

In response to all of the support received, Duke’s MSA posted the following on the Facebook event page:

“Thank you all so much for your support. We truly appreciate you for reaching out! Your smiling faces, your presence, and your curiosity to learn from us as human beings about what we practice will be more than enough. We’ve been surrounded by a lot of negative assumptions and generalizations and those are some things that can be the most hurtful.”

Duke University currently has 15,000 students in attendance at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 700 of those students identify as Muslim, according to Duke Today. 700 students that wish to celebrate their faith safely, respectfully and audibly for only three minutes one afternoon a week.

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

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