A Jew Writes in Support of Hijab at Harvard’s Gymn

Posted on March 28, 2008


By Ruth Marcus
Wednesday, March 26, 2008; A19

It’s a measure of America’s multicultural journey over the past half-century that we’ve gone from “God and Man at Yale” to Allah and Woman at Harvard.

In a contretemps scarcely imaginable in William F. Buckley’s day, Harvard has closed one of its gyms to men for six hours a week so that Muslim women can exercise comfortably. “Sharia at Harvard,” warned blogger Andrew Sullivan. A Harvard Crimson columnist blasted “Harvard’s misguided accommodationist policy.”

Meanwhile, a separate controversy has flared over broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from the steps of Harvard’s main library during Islamic Awareness Week. Three graduate students, writing in the Crimson, argued that the prayer sowed “seeds of division and disrespect” by declaring that “there is no lord except God” and that “Mohammad is the Messenger of God.” Harvard, they wrote, “should not grant license to any religious group, minority or otherwise, to use a loudspeaker to declare false the profoundly important and personal beliefs of others.”

Buckley, who died last month, famously proclaimed that “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.” Were he still with us, he would no doubt be saying “I told you so,” except more polysyllabically. Leave it to the Ivy League to abandon its cherished secularism — in defense of Islam.

My reaction is more along the lines of: “Get a grip.” It’s reasonable to set aside a few off-peak hours at one of Harvard’s many gyms. It’s not offensive to have the call to prayer echoing across Harvard Yard, any more than it is to ring church bells or erect a giant menorah there. [more]

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Please read also the following article:

1. Kudos to Harvard University for Women Only Workouts in Gymn.