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Muslim chaplain enduring Duke struggles

Dec. 14, 2008 at 1:19 PM

DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The first full-time Muslim chaplain in Duke University's history says he is proud to be enduring struggles in his post at the North Carolina school.

Chaplain Abdullah Antepli said while he has been criticized by both the Christian and Muslim communities since accepting the university position, he is determined to help educate U.S. society about Islamic beliefs, The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer reported Sunday.

"American Islam is an emerging cultural identity," he said. "Muslim chaplains have a significant role to play in negotiating this identity."

While at least one supporter of the Durham, N.C., university has pulled funding of the school in protest, the university's director of religious life is happy to have Antepli on staff for the school's estimated 500 Muslim students and staff.

"Abdullah is a gift," Duke Chapel Associate Dean Craig Kocher told The News & Observer. "He has a rare ability to articulate the depth and beauty of the Muslim tradition to those who aren't familiar with it, and especially to those who might be wary of it."

The newspaper said Antepli, 35, has helped form the Center for Muslim Life on campus and organized Muslim events such as Ramadan.

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