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Duke University's iconic Cathedral.

Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, announced recently that it planned to transform the bell tower on the school’s iconic cathedral into a minaret where the Muslim call to prayer would be publicly broadcast.

But a huge backlash against this Methodist-founded school’s decision led the university to abandon its plans.


“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement issued on Thursday, Jan, 15. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

The first call to prayer from the tower had been scheduled for Jan. 16.

The original plan to have the Islamic chant – which includes the words “Allahu Akbar” – made from the bell tower would have been “moderately amplified” in both English and Arabic.

Instead, the call to prayer will be moved to outside the chapel.  According to Thursday’s statement, Duke’s Muslims will now gather on the quadrangle outside the Chapel.

“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,” Schoenfeld said. Following the call to prayer chant, Muslim worshippers will move on to the basement of the Chapel, where they have met for daily prayers for several years.

Schoenfeld pointed out that “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,” Schoenfeld said.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. What preposterous yeitser drove an Amercan university to decide that the Muslim "call to prayer" should be broadcast over the entire campus, from a CHURCH tower, every week, during a time in the history of the world when any rational person willing to speak the truth to himself can see that the most powerful force for intolerance and oppression on the entire planet is coming from Islam?

  2. I can't believe they even considered it in the first place. These liberal universities have lost their perspective. There is no more logic, morality, values or integrity anymore.

    If Christians or Jews were committing atrocities around the world in the name of their religion, like radical Islamists are, these schools would ban everything associated with them. Some of them are already guilty of cxl many Christian activities, including Duke. This demented thinking is frightening.

  3. I'm glad I was ensconsed at the university in the 60s…and 70s…and 80s. Yes, glad I didn't awake before my wont to jackass braying early in the morning. In my view, now every religion represented by the student body, possibly Wiccan, maybe Moonies, along with the Christians and Jews should bray their call to prayer at the same time and create a real cacaphony of sound. But they won't because they are not filled with humans seeking to impose their will on the surrounding masses.

  4. I am so outraged it was even considered I cannot find the word to express it. Jewish students have been persecuted and harassed on American college campuses over the past year to the extent they don't feel safe or welcomed; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim woman, had her invitation to speak at the commencement exercise at Brandeis University withdrawn because some of the faculty and the Muslim students objected, saying her "statements about Islam "are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values." … her first hand experiences since the age of five at the hands of Islam give her the right to make those statements; Christians all over the Middle East and other parts of the world are being brutally murdered in the name of Islam; three million people including world leaders (except the US) gathered in Paris to protest the terrorist attacks by Islamist radicals just this week… and we soothe the feelings of privileged Muslim students by saying we will allow this religious intrusion, which we have allowed no other religion, even Christian, in the history of our nation.

    We are at war, and it is not with Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Ebola. It is with ignorant pseudo-intellectuals within this country who think Islam is a benign cyst instead of a malignant tumor.

  5. All Americans should thank Mr Graham for intervening in this situation. This University was funded and built by Christians so why should Christian killers be permitted to broadcast their hateful ideas at this school? Most schools in the US will not permit the children to say the pledge of allegiance, mention God or Christ and this dummy at Duke wants to let the Muslims broadcast prayers from the tower. He says he does this in an attempt to have “Unity” Let him go to any Muslim country and try to hold a Christian prayer service in one of their mosques. They’d have his head in a basket, Small loss!

  6. I agree that it was a mistake to permit the adhan at Duke. Some Muslim scholars have argued that the recitation of the call to prayer permits Muslim control of a territory. However, you are very wrong to describe the adhan as 'jackass braying'. Done properly, it can be very beautiful. Using amplification tends to ruin it, but a beautiful voice can lend it grace and dignity. The great Iranian singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian did a version that was sung annually during Ramadan. I have a copy, and it's very lovely. Church bells are, of course, beautiful in a different way. Religious chanting in Persian can be electrifying, especially when based on poetic texts. The Baha'is (persecuted in Iran) use this form of chanting even in Western countries (in addition to English etc. prayers), and it is wondrous with a great voice. I detect a degree of bigotry on your part. You should loosen up and let other cultures enrich your life. But it was a mistake to impose this at Duke: with the passage of time, it could have been sung five times a day, as is normal in Muslim countries.

  7. As a relatively recent graduate of Duke University, and as a Jewish American currently living in Israel, I'm dismayed (and frankly disgusted) by the racist reaction against Muslims in the comments to this article. Looking for ways to make a campus inclusive is commendable– Duke leadership was always ahead of its time. In no way is welcoming one religion an insult to other religions, nor is it somehow bending to the will of the first. I was an active member of Duke's Hillel as an undergrad, but also of several pioneering (and extremely enriching) interfaith programs. Some of my fondest and most formative experiences came from direct engagement with fellow students of other religions. The comments below are mostly dripping with fear, intolerance, and blatant ignorance in some cases…and THIS is what begets violence. Freedom of religion and diversity on campus does the opposite.

  8. There is nothing good coming from Islam. They have contributed NOTHING to any society, in or out of their home countries. The last I heard, they were claiming responsibility for mathematics saying algebra was their "invention." That is like Newton saying there was no gravity before he made his famous the theory. And somebody else invented the circle. Some said Columbus discovered America. The Greeks knew the Earth was round, and gave a pretty accurate guess for it's diameter. The Chinese can dispute the claim of Western discovery, because Indians of the Americas have Asian genetics.
    Duke wanted to be proactive. They want students to step into adulthood in a well rounded way. That is what schools should do, but in this case, they were promoting something offensive to most Americans. Listening to an amplified "call to prayer" sounds more like a demand, and they don't have the right to ask for it. They believe in a cult of death. We don't need that, one bit, do we?

  9. Exactly !!! I don't understand why ppl can't see that !! No way would the peaceful wonderful muslims permit christians to worship in Their mosques. I say each group worship in your own house of worship and study subjects in school like history , math, etc etc. Plenty of info online if you want to study religion .

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