CBS This Morning Blames Cancellation of Muslim Prayer Event at Duke on Franklin Graham

On Friday, CBS This Morning reported on news that Duke University had cancelled plans to have a Muslim call-to-prayer projected from the school’s famous bell tower at the Duke Chapel and, while Duke suggested that there were “several factors” that led to the decision, the segment prominently tied it to Rev. Franklin Graham and subsequent threats against them.

CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman fretted that the cancellation came as “students, faculty, and administrators spent months working on a new way to make campus feel more inclusive for its 700 Muslims.”

Goldman added that the event was axed “following security threats and a barrage of criticism from the community, as well as Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist, Billy Graham.”

After a soundbite from Graham denouncing Islam as “not a God of peace,” Goldman read an excerpt from a post Graham posted on Facebook that “received more than 70,000 likes.” 

From there, Duke University’s Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Schoenfeld stated that there’s been “more than one Facebook post and we received a number of calls and emails, some of which were actually quite vitriolic.”

It was following this that part of one such “threat” was shown on screen that “took the university by surprise and prompted the school to call in federal agents”:

One email sent to the school’s president and shared with CBS This Morning read, “France....started with politically correct speech, welcoming the Muslims. Now the same people they welcomed, slaughter the citizens in the street. You sir will be responsible for slaughtering Americans.”

Goldman ended by telling show co-host Gayle King that “the school has had to call in extra security” for the alternative Muslim prayer event, which will instead be held outside the Chapel.

Needless to say, if the story was about a Christian event being cancelled after threats and comments from people of other faiths, it’s safe to say that there would be next to no coverage in the media.

The transcript of the segment from CBS This Morning on January 16 can be found below.

CBS This Morning
January 16, 2015
7:33 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Ring of Controversy; Duke Won’t Use Chapel for Muslim Prayer Call]

CHARLIE ROSE: This morning, Duke University will not a sound a Muslim call to prayer from the Chapel’s bell tower. It was supposed to be a new weekly tradition, but the school scrapped the plan after a public outcry and some threats. Julianna Goldman is on Duke’s campus in Durham, North Carolina. Julianna, good morning. 

JULIANNA GOLDMAN: Good morning. Well, students, faculty, and administrators spent months working on a new way to make campus feel more inclusive for its 700 Muslims. They focused their efforts on this historic chapel where, for years, the Muslim community has joined other faiths in holding regular prayer services. On Thursday, plans to chant the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer from the iconic Duke University bell tower were canceled following security threats and a barrage of criticism from the community, as well as Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist, Billy Graham. 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: This is not a God of peace. It’s just not there. There’s no history of Islam being a peaceful religion.

GOLDMAN: After Duke initially announced the plans, Graham took to Facebook to denounce the decision, writing “followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading anyone who doesn't submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism.” The post received more than 70,000 likes. Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s Vice President of Public Affairs, says several factors played a role in the university's decision. 

DUKE UNIVERSITY VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC AFFARIS MICHAEL SCHOENFELD: There was more than one Facebook post and we received a number of calls and emails, some of which were actually quite vitriolic. 

GOLDMAN: These threats took the university by surprise and prompted the school to call in federal agents. One email sent to the school’s president and shared with CBS This Morning read, “France....started with politically correct speech, welcoming the Muslims. Now the same people they welcomed, slaughter the citizens in the street. You sir will be responsible for slaughtering Americans.”

SCHOENFELD: Something that was intended to be a unifying factor and unifying force and unifying event was, in fact, becoming a divisive force. 

DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT AKSHAY SAVE: Every religion has had ups and downs. Every religion has had violence associated with their history and so, I don't really think it's fair. 

GOLDMAN: Omid Safi, Director Duke’s Islamic Studies Center, says last week's terror attacks in France may have contributed to the violent nature of the threats and while student safety is paramount, he's disappointed by what he feels is a lost opportunity to show the peaceful side of the Muslim community. 

DUKE UNIVERSITY ISLAMIC STUDIES CENTER DIRECTOR OMID SAFI: Muslims have been praying inside the Duke Chapel for over 20 years. This is not a new thing for us. I'm disappointed in the fact that something that should be a celebrations of religious coexistence is now having to be weighed in this larger context of the threats that have come against our community. 

GOLDMAN: The call to prayer will instead be held from an area right in front of the Chapel when Muslims gather today for regular prayers. Gayle, the school has had to call in extra security for that. 

GAYLE KING: Alright, Julianna. Thank you. 

Religion Christianity Islam Moderate Islam CBS CBS This Morning Duke Charlie Rose Julianna Goldman Franklin Graham
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