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A Conservative Christian Group Sues the University of North Carolina for Assigning a Book On Islam

August 08, 2002

Almost a year after September 11th, bias and harassment against Muslims, Arabs, and south Asians continues across the US. On Monday, Christian evangelist Franklin Graham denounced Islam as an "evil" religion on the Fox news program "Hannity & Colmes". Graham claimed that terrorism is part of mainstream Islam and that the Quran "preaches violence."

Franklin Graham is the fourth child of the ailing Reverend Billy Graham, who has preached to more people than any man in history. Franklin Graham delivered the opening prayer at President Bush’s inauguration. And he is only one of the many voices denouncing Islam.

When the University of North Carolina assigned incoming freshmen to read a survey book about Islam this year, it was besieged by right-wing groups and slammed across the airwaves by Christian evangelists. The university says they chose the book "Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations" because of increased interest in Islam since September 11. But Fox News Network host Bill O’Reilly compared the assignment to teaching "Mein Kampf" in 1941 and questioned the purpose of making freshmen study "our enemy’s religion."

And last month, the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, a conservative Christian organization, filed suit against the university. The Family Policy Network’s major issue is opposing homosexuality, but this time, it contends that it is unconstitutional for a publicly funded university to require students to study a specific religion.

We are joined by the author of the book "Approaching the Qur’an", Michael Sells, and by the president of the organization that is suing, Joe Glover of the Family Policy Network.


  • Michael Sells, professor of comparative religion at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and author of "Approaching the Quran: the Early Revelations" (the book that caused Family Policy Network to sue UNC).
  • Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network (they are suing UNC for assigning "Approaching the Quran" to students).
  • Hodan Hassan, spokesperson for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

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