DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Duke University officials said they backed down from a decision to broadcast a Muslim call to prayer from the chapel tower after getting "credible threats."
Omar Safi, director of the university's Islamic Studies Center, said students will chant the call from the steps of the chapel instead. Muslim students have held Friday prayers in a room in the basement of the building for years.
The reaction when Duke in Durham, N.C., announced Thursday that Muslim students would chant the call from the bell tower was fast and much of it furious. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of Samaritan's Purse, urged Duke alumni and others to stop giving to the university.
"As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn't submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism. I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed," Graham said on his Facebook page.
Graham exulted that Duke "made the right decision!" after the university backed down. Earlier in the day, he suggested to the Charlotte Observer that Duke could donate the land for a mosque for Muslim students and "let Saudi Arabia build it for them.
Safi said "a number of credible threats" had been aimed at Muslim students and faculty that he said are now the subject of criminal investigation.
Duke has about 700 Muslim students.
"Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students," said Michael Schoenfeld, the vice president for public affairs and government relations, in a statement. "However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect."