This writer isn’t sure what to think about this turnaround on the part of Duke University’s administration. First they announced they’d do the call to prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower for Friday’s jummah prayer. Then, yesterday they come out with this press release:
“Duke University has reconsidered a previously announced plan to present a traditional Muslim call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, campus officials said Thursday.
“The call to prayer, or ‘adhan’, which announces the start of a weekly jummah prayer service that has been held in the Chapel basement for the past several years, will not come from the bell tower on Friday as announced earlier.
“’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. ‘However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.’
“Jummah prayers have taken place in the basement of Duke Chapel for many years, and start with the traditional call to prayer chant. 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, before moving to its regular location for prayers. 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.’”
(Do note that the plan was ONE call to prayer each week, not five each day.) What do you think? Bad timing due to events in France and Belgium? Bad decision to allow the call to prayer? Bad decision to rescind the plan?