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Controversial Imam adds Duke to his speaking schedule for next week

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The New York City imam behind the controversial Islamic center near Ground Zero will speak at Duke next week.

Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf is already scheduled to appear Wednesday at UNC-Chapel Hill, an event that has people talking. Now, Duke has lined him up as well. He'll speak at noon Thursday at Duke Chapel.

It's free and open to the public.

At Duke, Abdul-Rauf will appear with Sam Wells, dean of Duke Chapel, and will take questions from Duke's Muslim chaplain, Abdullah Antepli, and Christy Lohr Sapp, associate dean for religious life.

Abdul-Rauf is a naturalized U.S. citizen and Kuwaiti-born imam. He founded and heads the Cordoba Movement, which seeks to improve understanding among people of all cultures and faiths.

He's been targeted by conservatives suspicious of Park51, the cultural center proposed near the cite of the World Trade Center tragedy.

In Washington, U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, is turning the spotlight of inquiry to the Islamic faith this week. He is convening a Capital Hill hearing Thursday on Muslim extremism.

In a news release, a Duke professor cautioned today that the hearing should be done with sensitivity.

“Hearings ought to focus on the difficult task of how to identify individuals who are vulnerable to radicalization and prevent them from engaging in violence," said David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke and UNC and a associate professor of the practice at Duke's  Sanford School of Public Policy. “Unfortunately, plans for the hearings appear to be taking an accusatory tone, with U.S. Rep. Peter King charging that Muslim-Americans do not cooperate sufficiently with law enforcement. Even if there have been instances of non-cooperation, which is not surprising in a diverse community of approximately 3 million people, it is unclear how highlighting this will help prevent radicalization in the future."

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About the blogger

Eric Ferreri covers higher education and general news.