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Judge allows UNC to discuss book (Quran)
News & Record ^ | 08/16/02 | MIKE FUCHS

Posted on 08/16/2002 3:18:46 AM PDT by Libloather

Judge allows UNC to discuss book
By MIKE FUCHS, Staff Writer
News & Record

GREENSBORO -- A federal judge refused Thursday to stop a UNC-Chapel Hill summer program assigning new students to read a book about Islam's holy text.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Tilley Jr. denied a temporary restraining order requested by a Virginia-based conservative Christian group on behalf of two taxpayers and three unidentified freshmen.

That means the discussion about the book on the Quran can continue as planned Monday unless the plaintiffs succeed with an appeal.

The Family Policy Network, based near Lynchburg, Va., argued that assigning 3,500 incoming freshmen and 800 transfer students entering a publicly funded university to read a book about Islam is unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs hoped the judge would stop the program before discussion groups about the book began Monday. The book is "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations" by Haverford College professor Michael Sells.

Tilley said the reading program is not a religious activity and isn't mandatory.

"There is obviously a secular purpose with regard to developing critical thinking, enhancing the intellectual atmosphere of the school for incoming students," Tilley said. "I don't believe an objective person reading the book would believe the university is suggesting a preference for Islam."

The summer program, in its fourth year, is designed to enhance the intellectual climate of UNC-CH through group discussions about books. No grades are given.

School officials said they assigned the 220-page book, which contains commentary on 35 verses of the Quran, to help students understand Islam after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The 19 Middle Eastern hijackers were identified as followers of a radical brand of Islam.

About half of incoming students participate in the summer reading program, university officials said.

Celia Lata, who is with the state attorney general's office representing UNC-CH, said the case is about academic freedom.

"The use of Dr. Sells' book in the program is not a state-sponsored act of religious worship," she told Tilley. "The book is not slanted either for or against Islam. The purpose of this exercise is to stimulate critical thinking."

About 180 faculty and staff have volunteered to lead this year's discussion Monday about Sells' book, which was chosen by a committee of UNC-CH faculty, students and staff.

Stephen Crampton, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in court the reading coerces "them into accepting a positive view of a particular religion. They put forward this skewed view of Islam."

Crampton also briefly played music from the book's companion CD in court, which contains Arabic recitations of several verses.

Tilley said he read Sells' book and didn't find it promoted Islam.

"The book did present Dr. Sells' opinion that he was not endorsing as true any of the revelations," Tilley said. "The two-hour discussion session is not a religious activity just as playing the CD in this courtroom converts the hearing into a religious activity."

Although they lost the ruling, Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, called Friday's hearing a victory.

Glover said UNC-Chapel Hill has changed its policies because of the suit. Students are no longer required to read the book and don't have to participate, Glover said.

The university recently changed its assignment, allowing students to write a one-page essay explaining their objections to reading the book.

"Everything has changed," Glover said. "In summary, there is no requirement. This is one of those occasions where a loss is a great win."

James Yacovelli of Youngsville, the center's state director and one of the plaintiffs, said UNC-Chapel Hill's Web site still describes the program as a requirement, although that is now not the case.

"The university back-tracked so quickly," Yacovelli said. "Obviously it's not a requirement. It's a huge victory."

But the plaintiffs still hope to stop the program. They said they will file an appeal today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va.

James Moeser, chancellor at UNC-CH, said the university has made no concessions concerning the reading program.

"They're blowing smoke," Moeser said during a telephone interview after the hearing. "There was never any penalty for not reading the book or for not coming to the discussion group. They're trying to snatch victory out the jaws of defeat."

The reading program, which has drawn widespread publicity, also became the topic for state lawmakers.

The state House approved Tuesday a proposed budget that would bar the use of tax dollars for UNC-CH's reading program unless it gives equal time to all religions.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: islam; islamakaziwahhabi; jihadiscrap; koran; northcarolina; quran; religionofpeace; saudideathcults; saudiislamakazis; terrorism; unc; wahhabideathcult; wahhabiislamakazis

1 posted on 08/16/2002 3:18:47 AM PDT by Libloather
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To: Libloather
Stephen Crampton, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in court the reading coerces "them into accepting a positive view of a particular religion. They put forward this skewed view of Islam."

Tilley said he read Sells' book and didn't find it promoted Islam.
"The book did present Dr. Sells' opinion that he was not endorsing as true any of the revelations,"

This seems to be the disconnect in the argument. The Plaintiffs are arguing that the book promotes a deliberately false impression of “the religion of peace” where as the judge seems to be trying to interpret if the book is evangelical or not.

Personally, I don’t have any problem with having students learn about islam, but it really should be done by reading the koran not a book that completely over looks the 4th, 5th and 9th suras.

People need to know what a horribly savage, hateful and violent religion this is and we’re all done a dis-service when we try to fool ourselves into thinking that muslims “pray to the same God we do, the koran is just like The Gospels, and the terrorists have ‘hijacked’ a peaceful religion.”

"Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them" (Koran 2:191)

"Not to make friendship with Jews and Christians" (Koran 5:51)

Allah and his messenger announce that it is acceptable to go back on our promises (treaties) and obligations with Pagans and make war on them whenever we find ourselves strong enough to do so (Koran 9:3)

"Fight and slay the Pagans, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem" (Koran 9:5)

islam, the religion of peace…


”Guns Before Butter.”

2 posted on 08/16/2002 5:21:37 AM PDT by South Hawthorne
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