Ad criticizing Muslim chaplain at WFU draws fire
By: LISA O’DONNELL | Winston-Salem Journal, Published: May 21, 2012, Updated: May 22, 2012 – 12:09 AM
An alumnus from Wake Forest University who took out an advertisement in Monday’s Winston-Salem Journal criticizing Imam Khalid Griggs, a university chaplain, said he did so as a way of pushing his alma mater into playing host to a debate on Shariah law.
In the ad, which ran the day of Wake Forest’s graduation, Donald Woodsmall claims that Griggs is a “Shariah supremacist who believes that everyone should live under Islamic Shariah law, with Islamic law replacing all man-made laws, including the U.S. Constitution.”
Griggs did not return emails and a phone call. Brett Eaton, a spokesman for Wake Forest, said the university would not comment on the ad.
Woodsmall, a 1977 graduate of Wake Forest, is a businessman who lives near Charlottesville, Va. He has criticized the university’s decision in 2010 to hire Griggs. Griggs is also the imam of the Community Mosque on Waughtown Street.
For the past several months, Woodsmall has tried to get President Nathan Hatch to consent to a symposium on Shariah law, the moral code and religious law of Islam. Woodsmall believes Muslims who adhere to Shariah are a threat to national security.
His correspondences with Hatch have also included accusations that Griggs is following the ideology of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center.
Hatch has declined the requests for a symposium.
Woodsmall said Tuesday that he doesn’t want to get Griggs fired.
“If Wake Forest believes I’m wrong, then let’s have a symposium or debate. My goal is to educate as many people as possible, at Wake Forest and beyond, what Shariah law is and why it’s a threat to America,” Woodsmall said. “I think it’s of national importance, not just to Wake Forest but to a nation.”
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group based in Washington, called the ad a “bizarro, anti-Shariah diatribe,” of the type becoming more common since the controversy over Park 51, the so-called ground zero mosque, in New York.
Hooper criticized the Journal for running the ad.
“This is the kind of language reserved for Internet hate sites,” Hooper said. “It’s a big concern that a reputable newspaper would publish that kind of unanswered hate without giving the person targeted some kind of opportunity to respond or challenge whether it should even be published. They hope that if they throw enough mud against the wall, some of it will stick, and Muslims deal with that tactic everyday in America.”
Jeffrey Green, the Journal’s president and publisher, said: “We treated this ad the same way we do political advertising. The ad was the opinion of the individual that bought the space. He paid for it and signed his name to it.”
Woodsmall has started a Facebook page titled Alumni for a Shariah-Free Wake Forest. As of late Monday night, it had 44 “likes.”