Trump administration targets Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill for biased, pro-Islamic Middle East studies program

A pro-Muslim bias in the joint Middle East studies program of Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill may cost it a government grant, the Trump administration warns. 

By World Israel News Staff

The U.S Department of Education is threatening to pull funding from a Middle East studies course jointly run by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of its pro-Islam bias, the Associated Press reports.

The Education Department warned the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies that it’s about to lose federal grant money if the program isn’t revised to meet department standards by September 22.

Robert King, the assistant secretary for post-secondary education, mapped out the violations that the program was committing in a letter sent to university officials at the end of August.

“There is a considerable emphasis placed on understanding the positive aspects of Islam,” the letter states. While very few courses addressed “the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Yazidis, Kurds, Druze and others.”

The program came under the microscope of the Department of Education after North Carolina Rep. George Holding brought to the department’s attention that it was using taxpayer’s money to host a  conference with “severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

The conference in question was held this past June under the title, ”Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities,” and included a rapper who performed an overtly anti-Semitic song,” he told the department.

In a later interview, Holding emphasized that the other schools should take heed by making sure that they are abiding by the rules of the grant.

“This has fallen through the cracks, and this could be going on at other educational institutions,” he said.

“If the department’s providing the money and giving guidance on how the money is to be used, I think they can be as in the weeds as they need to be,” he said.

Many prestigious American academic institutions receive grant money from the Department of Education for their Middle East programs, such as Columbia, Georgetown, Yale and the University of Texas.

Henry Reichman, who chairs a committee on academic freedom at the American Association of University Professors, told the Associated Press that this action by the Department of Education is a slippery slope.

“Is the government now going to judge funding programs based on the opinions of instructors or the approach of each course?” he said.

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