Abdullah Antepli, Duke University's Muslim chaplain, has returned to campus following a 10-day visit to Afghanistan that he described as both intense and depressing.
Invited by an Afghan think tank, Antepli met with Muslim leaders at religious schools and other institutions in the capital city Kabul and surrounding areas. He found many of them skeptical of his own advocacy of tolerance among faith groups, leading to discussions that often stretched into hours.
"To be honest, I was discouraged by how radical many of them have become during these long years of war," he said.
Antepli, a Turkish scholar who became Duke's first Muslim chaplain in 2008, also took time in Afghanistan to meet with U.S. troops.
Today (Wednesday), Antepli is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., to appear at the Pentagon in a symbolic Iftar dinner, the evening ceremony at which Muslims break their fast during the month of Ramadan. He plans to return to the nation's capital on Aug. 25 for another Iftar meal, at the Israeli Embassy, along with other Muslim scholars and leaders. The visit will be brief, he said, since he plans to stay in Durham and focus on welcoming Muslim students and others back to campus for the new school year.