As members of the Durham chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, we were extremely dismayed by recent acts of Islamophobia in our community. Duke University made the decision – apparently 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.
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 alumni to withhold funding in order to terminate Griggs’ position as Muslim chaplain there.
We understand these extremist pressures in the context of a wave of Islamophobic ideological and financial threats targeting our nation’s institutions of higher learning. Because we believe strongly that people of conscience must speak out to challenge bigotry in all its forms, we support the Muslim students, faculty and staff in the Duke community, the Wake Forest University community and in all communities in North Carolina facing these threats.
We want to express our disappointment in Duke’s choice to capitulate to fear-mongering rather than protect and promote its students’ freedom to worship, rather than further the cause of understanding, rather than cement its 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 publicly declare that Islamophobia 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 silence.
We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters at Duke, at Wake Forest and anywhere where Islamophobia needs to be uprooted, denounced and condemned. We commit to take a stand against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism. And we hope that soon those who spout fear will be drowned out by those who espouse humanity, pluralism and compassion.
Jewish Voice for Peace-North Carolina, Durham