Tags: Education | Middle East | Religion | Trump Administration | funding | north carolina | duke

Ed Dept. Threatens Funding for Pro-Islam College Program

betsy devos sits and listens during a congressional hearing
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Rex Features/AP)

Thursday, 19 September 2019 04:34 PM

The Trump administration is reportedly threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University for misusing a federal grant to advance "ideological priorities" and unfairly promote "the positive aspects of Islam" but not Christianity or Judaism.

An Aug. 29 letter from the federal Education Department orders the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings by Sept. 22 or risk losing future funding from the grant awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction. 

The consortium got $235,000 from the grant last year, the Associated Press reported, citing Education Department figures.

Officials at Duke and UNC declined to comment to the AP. Similar programs at other schools are being examined, the wire service reported.

Reaction was swift.

"Is the government now going to judge funding programs based on the opinions of instructors or the approach of each course?" Henry Reichman, chairman of a committee on academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, told the AP.

"The odor of right wing political correctness that comes through this definitely could have a chilling effect."

Jay Smith, a UNC history professor at and vice president of its chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the letter amounts to "ideologically driven harassment," declaring the Education Department official who signed the letter, Robert King, "should stay in his lane and allow the experts to determine what constitutes a 'full understanding' of the Middle East."

Other schools getting the grants for their Middle East program include Columbia, Georgetown, Yale, and the University of Texas. 

According to the AP, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered the probe in June after Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., complained about a conference with "severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric."

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A Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University is misusing a federal grant to advance "ideological priorities" and unfairly promote "the positive aspects of Islam" but not Christianity or Judaism, according to the Education Department.
funding, north carolina, duke, islam, religious liberty
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2019-34-19
Thursday, 19 September 2019 04:34 PM
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