August 2, 2002

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)--The University of North Carolina is asking a judge to in effect throw out a lawsuit that seeks to block the school from assigning students to read a book on Islam.

The motions filed in federal court Thursday seek to disqualify all five plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed by a Christian organization, the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy.

Three of the plaintiffs are students whose names were not disclosed in the lawsuit. The university argues the three students have no grounds under court rules to remain anonymous.

The other two, taxpayers James Yacovelli and Terry Moffitt, should be disqualified because they cannot prove they'll be injured by the required reading, or benefit if the requirement is lifted, school lawyers argued. The group filed the suit July 22, asking the university to drop the requirement for incoming freshmen to read ``Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations'' by Michael Sells over the summer and write a one-page paper. The group claims the requirement violates the First Amendment right to religious freedom. The university amended its policy, saying students who are offended by the book can submit a one-page paper stating their objections. Students are expected to discuss the book in seminars Aug. 19. School officials have said the subject is timely and informational, and that the reading requirement is not intended to promote Islam. In seeking to disqualify the student plaintiffs, the university said the three could not prove they have any reason to think they will be harmed--physically or mentally--if they are identified.

An attorney for the plaintiffs disagreed.

``There is no reason whatsoever to reveal their true identities in this instance, especially with all the violence accompanying Islamic fundamentalism,'' said Michael DePrimo, a lawyer with the Mississippi-based Christian group.

He said he is not suggesting every Muslim is violent, ``But there are those out there who have shown themselves to be extremely violent.''

The students are identified only as John Doe No. 1, an evangelical Christian; John Doe No. 2, a Roman Catholic; and Jane Roe, who is Jewish.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad