UNC’s Islamic Diversification

About two weeks ago, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Student Union (a department of the University’s Student Affairs Division) announced that it would be constructing a “Meditation Space” within the Union building.

But there’s an added twist. In order to address “some basic needs and desires voiced by the Muslim community” (i.e. wanting a space where they can pray five times a day) the Union has also decided to install foot washing basins in the Meditation Room for Islamic students to use while performing the Wudu ritual.

Normally, I don’t complain when other students engage in religious worship. But there are several problems with this proposal. The first is that this Meditation Room is being built expressly for the purpose of alleviating some of the difficulties involved with Muslim students’ religious practices. So, this raises the question, should publicly-funded institutions provide financial and material assistance to religious groups in order to facilitate religious worship? The First Amendment would seem to indicate a “no” answer to this question.  Indeed, UNC’s own practices also seem to indicate that public institutions should not involve themselves in such matters.  There currently exist no similar facilities on campus where Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, etc., etc. students can worship.  Many students groups will utilize the normal classroom-reservation procedures if they desire to hold a worship service on campus, but there are no permanent facilities on campus where these students can hold regular worship services. This begs the question, what makes the Muslim students so special and, why can’t the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) continue making room reservations just like every other religious group on campus?  

Also consider the plight of secular students. How are they supposed to “meditate” in a room adorned with religious symbols or a room where other students are worshiping?

There’s also the issue of the room itself. Under the current plan, the Meditation Room will only provide special accommodations for Muslims. In an email, Union administrators said that the presence of the wash basin in the room was because of “safety issues” and the self-evident danger that a bowl of water poses to the campus community if left unattended.  But accommodations for other groups’ religious practices are not being made. To take an example, many Christian rituals involve the use of candles, yet no special accommodations are being made for such practices. Given the presence of a wash basin/fire bucket in the room, you would think that such accommodations would be relatively easy to make. Yet none are in the offing.  It is clear that this room is being constructed for the benefit of a very narrow (and very small) group.

It’s also worth considering how UNC has treated other religious groups in the past. In 2008, the university rather famously purged the campus libraries of their Christmas trees. At the time, Sarah Michalak, Associate Provost of University Libraries, declared that “it didn’t seem right to celebrate one set of customs.” So Christmas trees (hardly the most religious of symbols) are too offensive to stand in the library for a few weeks, but it’s okay to build Islamic prayer chapels in the Union. This, of course, is the textbook definition of a double-standard. Maybe if the ornaments on the Christmas tree were little foot basins, they’d be back in business.

It is clear that this room is being built solely to facilitate the religious worship of campus Muslims. Such accommodating treatment is regularly denied to other religious groups on campus, raising serious questions as to why UNC’s Muslim students are accorded such generous accommodations. Aside from the First Amendment issues involved, the university’s brazen double-standard is deeply troubling.

Mark Seelinger Jr. // University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill // @marcseelinger



  1. Foot washing is also a Christian ritual. I would suggest that the Christian students take full advantage of this facility.[Hint hint].

  2. Ted Rutherford says:

    I’ll be writing the chancellor and state senators. Keep up the good work!

  3. Amy Miller says:

    They tried to do this at MSU Law, it turned into a thing. The Muslim students brought up the idea during Ramadan last year; I’m totally cool with the idea (because honestly, who cares, right?) but we definitely had to push to make sure the room was available to everyone. We have a “quiet reflection” room, which is cool, but I don’t know of anyone who uses it. I might go take a nap in it later tonight.

    #heretic, or something ;)

  4. informed rational freedom loving people have all the reasons in the world to fear islam…

    the twin fogs of political correctness & ignorance must be dispersed before western society better understands this menace. even a brief review of islamic theology & history quickly exposes the deadly roots of this evil ideology.

    Mohamhead was a 7th century murdering warlord who rose to power on a river of blood surrounded by thugs and gangsters using intimidation, violence, deception and trickery to expand their criminal empire while mercilessly suppressing and killing their opponents and enriching themselves on stolen booty.

    The evil koran is a collection of sayings and speeches by this diabolical madman claiming divine guidance from some mythical sky-god which has inspired generations of crazed fanatics to abhorrent behavior resulting in historys worst ever crimes against humanity starting 1400 years ago and still continuing even today.

    Islam is just another fascist totalitarian ideology used by power hungry fanatics on yet another quest for worldwide domination and includes all the usual human rights abuses & suppression of freedoms.

    and a snappy graphics version, great for emailing…

  5. Curtis Wright says:


    Please email me at for an interview opportunity on this issue.
    Curtis Wright
    WFNC 640 AM & WAAV 980 AM
    Cumulus Broadcasting Inc.
    North Carolina


  7. We ignore “special treatment” for Muslims at our peril. It tends to morph into Islamic domination.

    -1/29/07 Daily Telegraph UK: 40% of Muslims, ages 16 to 24, want Sharia law; 13% admire al-Qaeda; 36% believe apostates should be executed; 75% believe that women should wear veils.
    -5/22/07 Reuters: 25% of young American Muslims believe in suicide bombings to fight the West.
    -7/10/07 Poll of Muslims in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia indicates that 75% believe in strict application of Sharia law.
    -7/27/08 Sunday Times UK: 33% of Muslim students support killing for Islam; 33% want world Islamic law.
    -7/10/10 Sunday Times, UK: Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with Sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

    So, will “special treatment” for Muslims cause them to assimilate? Maybe for a few decades, but in the long run? Nah, not as long as we violate Islam’s borders.

    12/8/09 Al-Shabab TV, Egypt: Egyptian cleric Hamdan Badr, a member of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, justified Muslim General Khalid ibn al-Walid’s (592-642AD) statement — “It was thirst that made us leave our homes. We have heard that Byzantine blood is the tastiest, and we have come to drink it” – this way:
    “This didn’t constitute aggression because we were defending the borders of the Islamic state. We are commanded to enjoin people to worship Allah. That is the mission of every Muslim in this life.” (there’s a video of this on You Tube). Thus, Islam began its relentless march, conquering the entire Middle East, Byzantium, western India, the Balkans and the Iberian Peninsula.

    The key to understanding the grave risk we are taking in allowing Muslims to live among us is accepting the fact that the “…borders of the Islamic state” are defined by wherever Muslims happen to live — and every Muslim extremist lives…to die, defending those borders. Contemporary examples of that?

    -8/09 Bosnian imam Mustafa Ceric declared Christian Serbian Muslim-majority territory boarding Montenegro as Muslim homelands. (Yes, the same Muslims we saved from ethnic cleansing at the hands of Christian Serbs in the 90′s are now claiming more Serbian land).
    -8/19/10 AndKronos International: Muslims claim land inside Montenegro as Muslim homelands.
    -8/20/10 AsiaNews, Kashmir: Extremist Muslims are demanding Sikhs convert or leave.
    -8/23/10 Reuters: Since 2004 Muslim extremists have killed 4,000 Buddhists in southern Thailand, which they are claiming as Muslim homelands.
    7/5/11 Daily Mail, UK: Islamic extremists have called on British Muslims to establish three independent states within the UK.

    Do these facts alarm multiculturalists? Not at all. They’ll point to Turkey, the most secular Muslim nation, as evidence that democracy and Islam are compatible. Yes, Turkey, whose Prime Minister, Recep Erdagon has said:
    -5/11/03 NY Times: “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.”
    -8/21/07 Reported by Milliyet, Turkey: He commented on the term “moderate Islam” saying, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
    -2/13/08, UK: “Assimilation is a crime against humanity.”
    -12/09 Syrian Arab News Agency: “Islam means peace, and it cannot tolerate terrorism. We reject all attempts to link Islam with terrorism.”
    -10/09/10 “Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers.”

    And who will record the history of Muslim assimilation in the West 100 years from now? Whoever’s there.

    -1/30/09 Timesonline: UK Muslim population growth between 2004 and 2008 was ten times greater than the rest of society.
    -8/8/09 Telegraph, UK: Europe’s Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015.
    -10/28/10 Daily Mail, UK: Mohamed or derivatives of that name is now the number one name in all of England.

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