Intimidation

Sara Roy

In 2002, incoming students at the University of North Carolina were required to read Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells, a translation into English of 35 of the early suras with a commentary and explication. Three students – one Jewish, two Christian – and a UNC alumna argued, with the support of a number of fundamentalist Christian organisations, that this constituted discrimination against them. They sued UNC through the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organisation, and received further support from a committee of the North Carolina state legislature. UNC won the case, but made reading the book optional all the same. There is growing concern that students throughout the US are trying to control what they are taught, immunising themselves against ideas that might challenge or offend them.

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[*] Sara Roy wrote about HR 3077 in the LRB of 1 April 2004.