As members of the Durham, NC chapter of
Jewish Voice for Peace, we were extremely
dismayed by recent acts of Islamophobia in
Duke University made the decision -- caving
to Christian extremist threats to withdraw
alumni funding -- to cancel the Muslim call
to prayer (Adhan) scheduled to be
called from Duke's bell tower a week ago.
We've also learned that Imam
Khalid Griggs (co-founder of the local
Muslims for Social Justice organization) is
facing similar Islamophobic attacks by a
donor urging Wake Forest University to
withhold funding in order
to terminate Imam Khalid Griggs' position as
Muslim chaplain (Imam) there.. We
understand these extremist pressures in the
context of a wave of Islamophobic
ideological and financial threats targeting
our nation's institutes of higher learning.
Because we believe strongly that people of
conscience must speak out to challenge
bigotry in all its forms, we are writing
publicly in support of the Muslim students,
faculty, and staff in the Duke community,
the Wake Forest University community, and in
all communities in North Carolina facing
We want to express our disappointment in Duke’s choice to capitulate to right-wing extremist fear-mongering rather than protecting and promoting their students' freedom to worship; rather than furthering the cause of understanding; rather than cementing their commitment to respect for all cultures.
We appreciate that the Duke Chapel bell tower is regularly used for Christian observances and is from time to time used for Jewish observances, and are pained that the same courtesies are not being extended to Duke's Muslim community. Such a double standard reinforces our perception that moves to overturn or further delay use of the bell tower for a Muslim call to prayer stem from prejudice. As Jewish Voice for Peace members, we believe it is our responsibility to denounce this decision -- made out of pressure from extremist bigotry -- and publicly declare that Islamopohobia has no place in our houses of worship, our schools, our workplaces, our homes, or anywhere else in our community.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We refuse to be those who are complicit through their silence.
And as Professor Omid Safi recently wrote, "How we respond as a community is up to us. Let us repel evil with something lovelier, as the Qur'an says." We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters at Duke, at Wake Forest University, and anywhere where Islamophobia needs to be uprooted, denounced, and condemned as hate speech. We commit to take a stand against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism in our synagogues, organizations, and our work for social justice. And we hope that soon, those who spout fear will be drowned out instead by those who espouse humanity, pluralism, and compassion.