Duke University Thursday has reversed its decision to allow Muslim students to broadcast a call-to-prayer from the school’s chapel bell tower starting this Friday.
Instead, the university said Thursday that students will gather outside the chapel before the weekly jummah prayer service, which has been held in the chapel basement every week for the past several years.
“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 statement. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”
Around 700 of Duke's 15,000 students identify as Muslims, according to the university. The chant, known as the adhan, had been planned to be “moderately amplified” from the chapel to alert the community of the weekly Friday prayer service.
But the university faced harsh criticism from some in the evangelical Christian community in response to the news, with Baptist minister Franklin Graham taking to his Facebook page to call on alumni to halt donations as long as the broadcast was in effect. On Thursday, Graham cited the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris in his condemnation of the broadcast of the Muslim call.
“The Muslim call to prayer that has been approved to go out across the campus of Duke University every Friday afternoon for three minutes includes “Allahu Akbar”—the words that the terrorists shouted at the onset of last week’s massacre in Paris,” Graham wrote.
Omid Safi, the director of Duke’s Islamic Studies Center, said on Huffington Post Live Thursday that it was wrong to suggest the call to prayer would somehow exclude Christianity from the school.
"The entire quad, and the entire campus of Duke University is laid out as a cross. And the Christian chapel is the very symbol of Duke University,” he said. “So the kind of fanatical proclamation that Christianity is being erased from Duke’s campus is frankly a poor indication of the intelligence of that argument.”
Requests for comment from the office of Religious Life at Duke were not immediately returned.