Duke University under fire after announcing weekly Muslim call-to-prayer

Duke Chapel, an icon for the university (image from wikipedia.org)
​Duke University plans to start broadcasting a call-to-prayer for Muslim students once a week from a bell tower within the Durham, North Carolina campus, but not everyone in the area is happy with the decision.

The schoolsaidon Tuesday that, starting Friday, members of the Duke Muslim Students Association will chant the “adhan” for three minutes, signaling the start of the group’s weekly prayer service.

"The adhan is the call to prayer that brings Muslims back to their purpose in life, which is to worship God and serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity," Imam Adeel Zeb, a Muslim chaplain at Duke, said in a press release.

According to the school, the chant will last for around three minutes and be “moderately amplified” from a speaker system installed in the Duke Chapel bell tower.

“This opportunity represents a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission,” Christy Lohr Sapp, the associate dean for religious life at the school’s chapel, added in a statement. “It connects the university to national trends in religious accommodation.”

Others, however, aren’t praising the plan. Most notably so far, evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late preacher Billy Graham, has outright condemned the school’s decision, and is now coming under attack for the uncouth remarks he made on his Facebook page this week.

“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. “I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed."

Graham’s post was shared on Facebook more than 50,000 times within 24 hours of being posted on Wednesday afternoon, and has garnered over 8,000 comments from individuals both for and against the call-to-prayer.

Speaking to the Charlotte Observer after the post was first published, Graham explained that he thinks the plan is wrong because, in his opinion, the chapel should used for Christian worship.

“It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” Graham said. “Using the bell tower that signifies worship of Jesus Christ, using (it) as a minaret is wrong,” he continued, adding that he is “not someone who is trying to be politically correct,” but rather is “just trying to tell the truth.”

Graham previously called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion” after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and told the Observer this week that he has “not changed my mind at all.”

According to the Observer, more than 700 of Duke’s 14,850 students – or around five percent – identify themselves as Muslim. The school traces its origins to Methodist and Quaker families who settled in the area in the 1830s, according to the Duke library.