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Published On: Fri, Jan 16th, 2015

Duke University cancels plans to sound Muslim call to prayer after outcry

A Muslim call to prayer would echo from the Duke University’s historic chapel tower, but an outcrry from the public and Christians have been noted as the reason for the school to change course Thursday.

Muslims gather for their call to prayer in a grassy area near the 210-foot gothic tower before heading into a room in Duke Chapel for their weekly prayer service. The university had previously said a moderately amplified call to prayer would be read by members of the Muslim Students Association from the tower for about three minutes each Friday.

Duke University is battling critics over Muslim prayer outside of their iconic chapel cover of a Quran  photo by crystalina  via wikimedia commons

Duke University is battling critics over Muslim prayer outside of their iconic chapel
cover of a Quran photo by crystalina via wikimedia commons

Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations, said it would be up to the students if they want to use some sort of amplification.

The original plan drew criticisms from Franklin Graham and others.

“There was considerable traffic and conversation and even a little bit of confusion, both within the campus and certainly outside, about what Duke was doing,” Schoenfeld said. “The purposes and goals and even the facts had been so mischaracterized as to turn it into a divisive situation, not a unifying situation.”

Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, wrote late Thursday that the university made the right decision to cancel the plan to use the tower after calling on donors not to give to the university.

“That violence is there and it’s coming and it’s going to come to this country. It has nothing to do with what I say. I’m just trying to warn this country about what’s coming. Islam is a violent religion,” Graham said.

The tower of the 83-year-old Duke Chapel was modeled after Canterbury Cathedral in England.

“The chapel is a very powerful symbol to anybody who has been at Duke or is connected to Duke. We have to be very thoughtful and deliberate in the way that it is used and presented,” Schoenfeld said.

He also said there were concerns about safety and security, but he declined to elaborate on whether any specific threats had been received.

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