UNC religion professor given award by Iran
December 25, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A University of North Carolina religion professor took pause when he learned his academic work would be honored by the government of Iran.
UNC-Chapel Hill professor Carl Ernst is a scholar of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. He wrote a book widely used in Iranian universities on a 12th-century Sufi poet.
The News ; Observer of Raleigh reports Ernst will accept the Farabi International Award in Iran on Saturday. But he first consulted Chancellor Holden Thorp.
Recipients are chosen by a government ministry, but the plaques are handed out by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Like most Americans, Ernst cringes at his politics.
Thorp said he understood the dilemma. He said Ernst told him it looked like an academic honor but knew politics can sometimes come into play.