Muslim students at Queen's University Belfast (QUB), Northern Ireland have launched a campaign for the university to allocate space for a prayer room.
Students currently have to pray in corridors, classrooms and forgotten corners of the campus because the college will not provide a dedicated space for prayer.
“Having a prayer room on campus is just a sign that the university is accommodating the needs of its students,” says Ahmed Amer from the QUB Muslim society, while speaking on the BBC Radio Ulster Talkback programme.
Amer stressed that most other universities in England and in the Republic of Ireland have dedicated rooms for prayer as well as the University of Ulster.
Nadira Nazir, an international female student from Malaysia, said the situation was even more difficult for women: “Sometimes you get students already coming into the class and they see us praying. I am glad for their understanding as they have to wait for us to finish [before] they start their lecture, because we are literally using their class.”
The campaign for dedicated prayer space is being backed by the Right Rev Dónal McKeown, the bishop of Derry.
In opposition to the move is Bob McCartney – former leader of the UK Unionist party: “The Muslim religion has this very strict requirement of a number of set prayers during the day which have to be carried out at times that are not always appropriate.”
He also said that: “This is in no way about the right of Muslims to exercise their right to prayer.
“It is about the university’s responsibility to provide the facilities to exercise such a right and who is to pay for such facilities?”
According a statement, the university said: “A key priority in the Vision 2020 strategy for Queen’s University Belfast is to increase the number of international students studying at the university.
“Accordingly, the university is currently reviewing all amenities in the context of its charter and statutes to ensure that staff and students from all backgrounds have access to appropriate facilities.”
According to the BBC there are currently about 1,200 international students from more than 80 countries studying at the university, with at least 400 are Muslims.. Tags: #Muslim-minorities #UK #
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