January 16, 2015

Why The Duke Decision To Not Broadcast the Muslim Call To Prayer Is The Right One

This matter seems like one of tolerance vs. intolerance. but there is good reason for Duke to refuse to allow the broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer over speakers on their campus.

Duke University canceled plans Thursday to begin a weekly Muslim call to prayer from the campus chapel this week, an initiative that had set off debate on social media. A school spokesman and a Duke Muslim leader said that a serious and credible security threat played a role in the decision.

The university had announced that Muslim students would chant the ‘adhan,’ the call to a weekly prayer service, from the Duke University Chapel bell tower each Friday. The sound of the call to prayer in Muslim communities is a standard part of ritual life on Muslims’ main prayer day. Theologically, it reminds Muslims “to worship God and serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity,” Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim chaplain at Duke, said in a news release.

* * *

In discussing the change Thursday, Duke officials said the response to the decision was not what the university had expected.

“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, in a news release. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

Schoenfeld said Thursday night that a “serious and credible” security threat was one of the reasons for the decision. University officials declined to elaborate.

Now there should have been no threats of violence against Muslims over the initial decision to allow the call to worship. But there also should have been no permission for its broadcast. After all, in an academic climate where we are constantly told there must be "trigger warnings" and the avoidance of "microagressions", there is no place for the broadcast of the battle cry of Islamic terror.

After all, the "adhan" begins and ends with the proclamation "Allahu Akbar," the very words used by jihadis around the world as a part of their terrorist attacks on Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even their fellow Muslims. To allow these words to be proclaimed in a public space is to raise the specter of jihadi violence against those who Islam deems to be infidels. Just as the school would never dream of permitting the scheduled weekly waiving of the Confederate flag on the campus quad and public broadcast of the Confederate anthem "Dixie" over a public address system because of the negative connotations of slavery and racism associated with them, neither should Duke be permitting the "adhan" with the terrorist battle cry. Those hearing the words "Allahu Akbar" have a credible a fear of jihadi violence -- after all, there have been some 20,000 incidents of jihadi terror committed worldwide since 9/11, as well as at least as many foiled plots to commit others.

Doesn't the right of the rest of the Duke Community to feel safe from terrorism trump any claim of privilege by the Muslims on campus have to use the speaker system to broadcast the words "Allahu Akbar"?

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