The history of humanity is stained by cycles of violence against other groups who differed from the prevailing cultural presence due to religion, complexion, sexual orientation, nationality, or political beliefs. As a “nation of nations” our experience in the United States teaches us that wars among nations are frequently fueled by propaganda portraying the “enemy” as “less than” or “other” because of these differences. Over time, however, prejudice and hatred dissipates, for fear melts when warmed by familiarity and friendship. We look back and wonder how we could have ever acted in such a way, knowing what we know now. As renowned poet, educator and human rights advocate, Maya Angelou once stated, “now that we know better, we can do better.”
Recent events in the Triangle area have again brought us face to face with our underlying fears and unnamed prejudices. Once again, we have an opportunity to better understand the instruction we receive from The Qur’an: “How we respond as a community is up to us. Let us repel evil with something lovelier.” The Triangle Interfaith Alliance is dedicated to promoting harmony, trust and understanding among all faiths, races, groups and people. We are deeply saddened by the recent attacks on Islam and the Muslim community at Duke and Wake Forest Universities.
Duke University, in a demonstration of their support for students and families of all faith traditions on campus, planned to allow the weekly Muslim call to prayer broadcast to take place from the bell tower of Duke University Chapel. This was a very bold move on the part of Duke and we applaud the University for it. Facing the possible loss of financial support for the University and out of concern for the safety of the students due to possible threats of violence, Duke chose to withdraw the plan for the Bell Tower’s use.
In another recent example, the Imam of Wake Forest University suffered threats from an intolerant, fearful and prejudiced donor to the university, who launched an unremitting,
hate-filled campaign for the University to dismiss the Imam. To their credit, Wake Forest University has not given in to these threats and is supporting Imam Griggs.
We join with many people of different faith streams and backgrounds who have condemned these attacks and stand in solidarity with Muslim community members. We know that violence based on fear and prejudice has no place in the human landscape and are living proof that we can learn from our differences, celebrate our uniquenesses, and honor the Divine Presence which is the common thread we all share.