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Ad criticizing Muslim chaplain at WFU draws fire

Imam Khalid Griggs

Imam Khalid Griggs

Usually, this type of rhetoric, slandering a religious leader and saying he is ideologically aligned with AlQaeda terrorists is reserved for web sites like JihadWatch.

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.”

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  • RWCrum

    I knew Don Woodsmall when he was a pretty fair basketball player at Forest View High School in Arlington Heights, IL. He was actually more than pretty fair, he was pretty damn good. Apparently along the way he was fouled too hard, I’m afraid to say.

  • Don Woodsmall

    The evidence and facts are plainly out there. Griggs has voiced he is a Shariah Islamist, he believes in Jihad, he reveres Ayatollah Khomeni, Colonel Quadafi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Why don’t you look at the facts and evidence and quit making such ill-informed accusations.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Solid Snake makes a good point: How could Mr. Griggs be effectively pushing for a shari’a law takeover of the United States if no one seems to have found evidence of his doing so?

    But, just for a hypothetical, I’m curious what people here think of an Imam’s ability to convince people to follow some path if he wanted to. I am not thinking of imposing shari’a, but perhaps pushing for a particular social policy on a topic such as abortion or the death penalty, the same types of topics that religious leaders of other faiths often weigh in on.

    Obviously part of the answer would depend on the Imam’s own persuasiveness and how well he could support his views through Islamic scripture and prior respected teachings. But, what about the institutional aspects? For example, the Catholic Church is very hierarchical, lending internal authority to the teachings of priests (assuming they are not rebuked by their bishops) and also has parishioners assigned to dioceses, meaning that they are pretty much stuck with a priest even if they disagree with his views.

    In contrast, in Judaism, we have either the strong followings of certain Orthodox groups, where the leaders have extreme influence on their members, or the synagogue system for most others, in which congregations can select and fire their rabbi. In addition, while congregants may feel a bit tied to their synagogue by what is typically an annual membership fee or by having friends there, they are generally reasonably comfortable switching synagogues if they find a rabbi too political in a direction they don’t like, or even starting their own worship/study group with no rabbi.

    I’m curious if there are thoughts on how much influence an Imam or other Islamic religious leader could have on the same types of issues that other religious leaders often weigh in on based on their position, again as opposed to just being personally persuasive or coming up with solid theological arguments.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  • marco

    He is basicaly guilty of a thought crime. They want people who even believe in shariah law to be persecuted and ostracised for having such a view, meanwhile these veyr people are shoving all kinds of laws down the rest of America’s throat based on their own religious beliefs.

  • Abdul-Rahman


    What “allegations”? That the Imam believes everyone should follow Shari’ah law? I would hope he does believe that, as he should want everyone to become a Muslim like him (and thus believe in and practice the Shari’ah) that’s why Muslims proselytize (called Dawah in Arabic). I would hope that Christians and Jews feel the same about their given faiths (putting aside some tendency to not seek converts or even discourage conversion as far as Judaism goes) and think everyone should believe what they believe, or else why do they even hold those beliefs themselves to start with?

    But there is nothing of this Imam claiming he wants to or is somehow trying to “force” anyone to follow Shari’ah law (or supposedly replace the American constitution with Shari’ah law) much less the pathetic, sourceless claim that he is somehow “in line with al-Qaeda”. I’m assuming that the Islamophobes are simply equating belief in Shari’ah law as somehow allegedly being “in league with al-Qaeda”! The xenophobic people making such charges tend not to be very educated in the wide range of scholarly debate and interpretation of the Shari’ah to start with. But then again those Islamophobes aren’t interested in scholarship they are only interested in continuing their hate filled, anti-Muslim agenda and promoting McCarthyisque “Red menace” style propaganda about a non-existent threat from Shari’ah law.

  • Solid Snake


    I believe they are incorrect.

    I would think that if Mr.Griggs was a ‘supremacist who wanted people to live under Shariah’ or ‘someone who shares the ideology’ of a known terrorist group he would have vocalized his views and beliefs to his students/staff/friends at some point in his life. Yet no one has any evidence. None of the students have complained about him, none of the staff.

    Unless….unless he isn’t pretending not to believe in what they are accusing him of!

    Boy, that Taqqiya sure is tricky!

  • Steve

    Cool, so the allegations are incorrect?

  • JD

    He is muslim anything muslim is evil way of thinking the anti muslim loon are trying to push …..

  • Steve

    Lawrence, good point, what do you think has been the cause of these allegations?

  • Lawrence of America

    @steve no, then he will be accused of practicing Taqiyya. when a dog barks, don’t bark back, just don’t feed him.

  • Steve

    All Griggs has to do is to deny it and the whole sorry episode can be put to bed

  • mindy1

    Pathetic, why waste time and energy on hate?? 🙁

  • MC

    44 likes? Wish they could have a dislike button…

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