carolina.gif (1377 bytes)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279

August 23, 2002

Carolina in the News

Here is a sampling of links and notes about Carolina people 
and programs cited recently in the international and national media:

International Coverage

The young and the rested
The Economist (U.K.)

Throughout its 104-year history, Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge has employed a lot of teenagers. 
Each summer, around two-thirds of the 325 staff at the remote holiday resort are high-school 
and college students... A 2001 study for the EPI by Thomas Mroz and Timothy Savage from 
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill linked teen joblessness to lower lifetime 
earnings, future unemployment and a variety of other social ills.

International News Note

The Agence France-Presse, a French news wire service, Thursday distributed a story about 
the continued threat of legal action by the American Family Association Center for Law and 
Policy about Carolina's summer reading program. 

Current National Coverage

Instructed, Not Converted (Opinion-Editorial Column)
The Wall Street Journal

News flash: North Carolina failed this week to make Islam the official state religion. Nor did it 
compel residents to profess that there is no God but Allah...,,SB1030061313126788435,00.html?mod=taste%5Fprimary%5Fhs

Education in context (Editorial)
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

If there's one thing a university should strive to be, it is a place where there can be a free exchange 
of ideas and students can learn to think on their own... The groups are protesting a decision by 
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to have its freshman class read a book about the 
Koran, saying the assignment promotes Islam and forces "Islamic indoctrination."

Promoting academic freedom (Editorial)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Every summer, universities and colleges assign a book to incoming freshmen. The idea is to 
create a common intellectual experience, to challenge childhood assumptions and to provide an 
activity more meaningful than beer parties and pledge meetings. This year's book choice at the 
University of North Carolina was controversial...

Quran seminar doesn't amount to indoctrination (Opinion-Editorial Column)
Wichita Eagle (Kansas)

One word to parents who may have sent their youngsters off to college: ideas. They're lurking 
everywhere. Your children may be introduced to ideas at unexpected moments, from unforeseen 
sources. These ideas may be exotic, unvarnished, disturbing, comforting, unexpected, enticing, 
repugnant, confounding, outlandish.
(Note: This column originally appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and was featured in the 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week.)

Students should study sacred texts (Editorial)
Deseret News (Utah)

Once again, a sacred text is at the center an unholy controversy. At the University of North 
, students have been asked to read part of the Quran ó the Islamic scripture ó as part 
of their coursework. A Catholic, an evangelical Christian and a Jewish student sued the school for 
"establishing a religion.",1249,405025687,00.html

Widening horizons (Editorial)
The Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.)

Certainly, the nation's court system is slow enough. To slow down the system even further with a 
lawsuit filed by a Virginia-based conservative Christian network seeking to stop the University of 
North Carolina
from assigning freshmen to read a book about the Koran made little sense...

Koran Studies: Inquiry Isn't Indoctrination (Letter to the Editor)
The Wall Street Journal 

In regard to your Aug. 13 editorial "Mandating the Koran": The University of North Carolina is 
requiring all incoming freshmen to read "Approaching the Quran" not to promote Islam but to 
broaden adult students' understanding of Islam in this time of crisis.,,2_0048,00.html
(Note: John Boddie is president of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. The 
Wall Street Journal published two letters to the editor about the summer reading program. To 
read both, please scroll down to the bottom of today's Carolina in the News.)

Amid Koran Debate, Panel of U. of North Carolina Board Endorses Academic Freedom
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Three days after discussions of a controversial book about the Koran at the University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill, a committee of the university system's Board of Governors unanimously 
passed a resolution on Thursday affirming academic freedom. The full board, which was widely 
criticized for failing to pass a similar resolution earlier this month, is expected to approve the 
resolution at its September 13 meeting.
(Note: The Chronicle of Higher Education requires a subscription to access articles.)

UM draws fire for requiring reading of play on gay man
Baltimore Sun

The University of North Carolina and University of Maryland might have picked different books 
for their campus wide reading programs, but they are running into similar opposition - including 
the threat of court challenges.

"Night" Light
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

Although their classes don't start until next week, freshmen at McKendree College already have 
passed their first assignment. The college asked them to read over the summer and come to campus 
prepared to talk about Elie Wiesel's "Night," an account of the Holocaust... The University of 
North Carolina
created a stir this summer by assigning "Approaching the Qur'an: the Early 
Revelations" by Michael Sells.

Associated Press coverage on the reading program also has appeared in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
Tulsa World (Oklahoma).

Survey raises issue of screening for flaw that causes retardation 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Katie Clapp knew something was wrong with her newborn son, but it took two years and dozens 
of doctor visits before he was diagnosed with the most common inherited cause of mental retardation... 
Don Bailey, who led the survey from the University of North Carolina, said the findings raised the 
question of whether all babies should be screened for Fragile X.
(Note: This Associated Press story, originating from the Atlanta Bureau, is appearing in other 
newspapers and media outlets including the Times-Picayune (Louisiana), the Canadian Press
and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)

Regional Coverage

Classroom freedoms can't be taken for granted (Editorial)
The Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star 

Academic freedom at the University of North Carolina has dodged one bullet, but another is 
whizzing toward its head...

Ignorance's challenge (Editorial)
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)

University of North Carolina officials surely thought they had hit upon a helpful idea four years ago: 
The 3,500 incoming freshmen at the main Chapel Hill campus would be given a summer reading 

State and Local Coverage

SENSIBLE: Judge opens the cover in book battle (Commentary)
Winston-Salem Journal

Before he decided whether UNC Chapel Hill could go ahead with class discussions this week on a 
book called Approaching the Quran, Judge Carlton Tilley sat down and read the book...

Editorial an attack on academic freedom (Letter to the Editor)
Asheville Citizen-Times

As an American citizen who grew up in the Middle East, teaches courses and gives presentations on 
Islam, Africa, Human Rights and the Middle East, I would like to comment on the editorial, "UNC-
Chapel Hill off target," (AC-T, Aug 4)...
(Note: The Asheville Citizen-Times published two letters to the editor today. To read the other 
letter to the editor, please go to

UNC board supports academic freedom
Chapel Hill Herald

Members of the state university systemís highest-ranking board began to right a perceived wrong 
Thursday, approving a resolution supporting academic freedom. The educational planning, policies 
and programs committee of UNCís Board of Governors endorsed the statement Thursday.

Academic freedom affirmed
Charlotte Observer

After 45 minutes of citing free speech and the search for truth, a committee that helps oversee North 
Carolina's public universities agreed to support academic freedom -- a principle it was already sworn 
to uphold. Thursday's special meeting allowed a committee of the state university system's Board 
of Governors to respond to national attention about a controversial UNC Chapel Hill reading 
program that includes parts of the Quran.

UNC panel's resolution supports academic freedom
Winston-Salem Journal

When the University of North Carolina board of governors failed to adopt a resolution supporting 
academic freedom during the height of a debate over the summer reading program at the University 
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, members quickly found themselves targets of harsh criticism.

Peeling the Orange 
Chapel Hill Herald

Several new buildings in the universityís current major construction program will be completed and 
put to use within just a few days... Up to a third of the people participating in the Carolina Quran case 
Monday were from the media....

Chapel Hill Homeowners Oppose New UNC Building

Homeowners in Elkin Hill are speaking out against The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's 
plans to move into their back yards. Residents voiced their opposition Thursday in response to UNC's 
plan for a new grounds keeping facility in a wooded area south of Horace Williams Airport.

Issues and Trends Affecting Carolina

Rating Is Bad News (Editorial)
Winston-Salem Journal

Make no mistake about it. Moody's decision Monday to downgrade North Carolina's credit rating will 
hurt both the state's pocketbook and its pride.

No push to resolve budget 
News and Observer

Almost two months into a new fiscal year, state House and Senate negotiators show no signs of 
progress toward working out their differences in a new $14 billion budget.

Few early votes 
News and Observer

Voters straggled into polling locations across the Triangle on Thursday, this year's opening day and 
just the second go-round for an early voting program that got its start with much fanfare two years 
(Note: A related story was also in the Chapel Hill Herald

Note: If you have any questions about Carolina in the News, 
please call Cathleen Keyser or Mike McFarland at News Services, 
(919) 962-2091 or or

The Wall Street Journal
August 23, 2002
Opinion-Editorial Column 

Instructed, Not Converted


News flash: North Carolina failed this week to make Islam the official state religion. Nor did it compel 
residents to profess that there is no God but Allah.

If you have a hard time believing that the Tar Heel state was threatening to do such a thing, you are not 
alone. Earlier this week, a court rightly slapped down a lawsuit making the claim that the First Amendment 
would be imperiled by the college classes that began in Chapel Hill on Monday.

How did this whole contretemps come about? Every year the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
requires new undergraduate students to participate in a summer reading program. The students read an 
assigned book and write an essay. On the first day of school they divide up into discussion groups.

This year's text was "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations" by Michael Sells of Haverford 
College. The book is a translation of 35 suras from the Koran chosen by Mr. Sells on account of their 
being, according to Muslims, the first revelations to Muhammad. These suras concern the nature of God 
and man's duties. Mr. Sells adds brief commentaries.

University of North Carolina officials probably wouldn't have picked the book but for what happened 
on Sept. 11. They wanted students matriculating this year -- says the school's Web site -- to understand 
"the great traditions of Islam." By July, however, the charge was being made that the book treats much too 
sympathetically a religion in whose name al Qaeda terrorists killed thousands of Americans.

This being America, someone had to sue, and they did. The Family Policy Network, a politically 
conservative, Christian group, claimed that the reading program violates the First Amendment's ban on
establishing a religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Its lawsuit read like a parody of something the ACLU might file to further separate church and state. The 
university endeavored to teach about Islam, selectively, yes, but not, as the Family Policy Network claimed,
to "proselytize" in its behalf. If assigning "Approaching the Qur'an" is unconstitutional, then so would be 
assigning, say, a book presenting stories from the Bible. It is unfathomable that the Constitution would so 
hamstring higher education.

Late last week U.S. District Judge Carlton Tilley (a Reagan appointee) declined to intervene. And then, 
on Monday, mere hours before the freshmen met in discussion groups, the appeals court in Richmond, 
Va. (routinely described by liberal interest groups as too conservative), turned down an appeal. And so 
it was that the reading program went on that afternoon, apparently without any conversions to Islam.

The story is not over, however. Some state legislators want to impose on the university a requirement that 
it give equal time to all religions. Imagine, should that dubious proposal become law, an assigned reading 
next year on Scientology or Wicca.

Still, the legal battle is only part of the controversy, and it is true that the educators at Chapel Hill have gaps 
to fill. Anyone reading Mr. Sells's book and then trying to relate its content to Sept. 11 is going to be confused. 
"I see one thing [violence by Muslims] on TV," a student told the New York Times, "and another in the book. 
I'm not sure what to think."

What the students need to know are the roots of Muslim rage, on which the estimable Bernard Lewis has 
written cogently. More specifically, they need to know about Wahhabism, the strain of Islam, less than three 
centuries old, that is the official religion of Saudi Arabia (no separation of mosque and state and thus no First 
Amendment litigation there!). Osama bin Laden and company are Wahhabis. Wahhabism is violent, intolerant 
and fanatical in the extreme -- with adherents even here in the U.S.

One of the first American scholars to identify the threat posed by Wahhabism before Sept. 11 was . . . 
Michael Sells. He's visiting Chapel Hill next month. A lecture encompassing Wahhabism might help the 
university rescue itself from a summer reading program that now deserves a grade of "incomplete."


Wall Street Journal
August 23, 2002
Letters to the Editor

Koran Studies: Inquiry Isn't Indoctrination

In regard to your Aug. 13 editorial "Mandating the Koran":

The University of North Carolina is requiring all incoming freshmen to read "Approaching the Quran" not to 
promote Islam but to broaden adult students' understanding of Islam in this time of crisis. A lawsuit was filed 
to stop the program, but the ACLU is not participating because we believe it is permissible and desirable for 
a public university to teach objectively about the role of religion in the U.S. and other countries.

If a lawsuit had been filed to stop the teaching of the Bible, the Torah or the Bhagavad Gita to university -- or 
even elementary school -- students in a course that meets the U.S. Supreme Court's requirement of being part 
of a "secular program of education," the ACLU would have taken the same position. You may find it "hard to 
imagine" this is true, but then again you are not able to cite even one example where the ACLU sought to 
stop the teaching of any religion in a secular context.

It is unconstitutional for a public school to indoctrinate students in religion, and the ACLU has opposed and 
will oppose prayers and religious instruction by government for the purpose of religious indoctrination. College
-level inquiry into the Koran and Islamic beliefs for the purpose of enriched understanding is just not the same 

John Boddie
American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
Greensboro, N.C.

Islam in Practice

According to Mr. Moeser, chancellor of UNC at Chapel Hill, requiring the reading of parts of the Koran is 
fulfilling the responsibility of the university is to provide students "with an atmosphere in which they can deepen 
their sense of themselves and the complex, often contradictory world around them" (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 
20). To that end, may I suggest that the program include a study of the genocide and forced slavery in Sudan, 
or how Islam has brought its version of "peace" to Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and 
the Balkans, as well as a consideration of democracy and human rights in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Morocco, 
Saudi Arabia, et al. Interviews with those attempting to practice a religion other than Islam in Islamic countries
would be enlightening, along with interviews of women, or family members of those who have disappeared at 
the hands of these "enlightened" governments. Video clips of the numerous celebrations in various Muslim 
countries at the destruction of the Twin Towers and the murder of 3,000 innocent Americans would also be 

Alan Biehl