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Anti-Islam sentiment reared its head this week in Durham, North Carolina, as Duke University officials manage unrest over their handling of a proposed campus-wide Muslim call to prayer.
On Tuesday, the school announced its decision to allow Muslim students to broadcast their traditional chant each Friday from the bell tower of Duke Chapel, calling the choice part of "a larger commitment to religious pluralism."
But by Thursday, those words of welcome were withdrawn.
"In a release Thursday, the university said Muslims will instead gather on the quadrangle before heading into a room in the chapel for their weekly prayer service," an adjustment widely understood to have stemmed from the school's unhappy alumni, The Associated Press reported.
Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, had urged alumni to stop donating to Duke until the call to prayer was called off, taking to his personal Facebook page with his outrage.
"The Muslim call to prayer that has been approved to go out across the campus of Duke University every Friday afternoon for three minutes includes 'Allahu Akbar' — the words that the terrorists shouted at the onset of last week's massacre in Paris," Graham wrote.
The university also faced threats of physical violence, and school officials determined it would be in the best interest of the Duke community to instead have the call to prayer recited in the quadrangle outside the chapel, The Atlantic reported.
As Graham's comments illustrated, Duke's initial announcement to broadcast the prayer met a cultural moment highly charged with anti-Muslim sentiment.
In France alone, dozens of mosques have been firebombed in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 7 attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, The Independent reported.
Duke University Dean Christy Lohr Sapp highlighted this tension in an opinion piece about the call to prayer, published Wednesday in the Charlotte News Observer.
She called the decision to broadcast the prayer a "small token of welcome (that) will provide a platform for a truer voice to resonate: a voice that challenges media stereotypes of Muslims, a voice of wisdom, a voice of prayer and a voice of peace," emphasizing her sense that Duke's community of Muslim students offers a dramatically different picture of the religion than that often portrayed in the news.
In Duke's statement about the call to prayer's cancellation, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, noted that officials' efforts to unify the school's community actually had the opposite effect.