Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Praying for a Solution

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Praying for a Solution

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Stickings Reporter

THE row between Newcastle University and its Muslim students has escalated with another peaceful protest during prayer yesterday.

The Muslim prayer space in the King George VI building has been closed the majority of the time on Saturdays and Sundays since it reopened at the start of the new term, preventing students from fulfilling their five daily prayers.

Dozens of Muslim students gathered for an outdoor prayer yesterday to urge the university to abide by its Faith Space Policy, which states that prayer facilities should be open from 7am to 11pm every day of the week.

The space is currently open at those hours during the week but only from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays.

Second-year dentistry student Ghadah Ali, of the Newcastle University Islamic Society, said: "They're going to restrict our ability to practise our faith. When we got back they said it's going to open but there are new rules that are going to be in place, with restricted opening hours and it's practically closed at weekends.

"They said they aren't going to interfere with our faith but they have restricted our ability to pray. We have said this is going to affect our wellbeing but they aren't listening. Some girls have been reluctant to come and pray.

"Prayer is an obligation. We're not against multi-faith at all but there's a certain way that we need to pray, we have certain actions we have to do and can't have people walking on it with their shoes. It wouldn't be fair to us or other groups.

"The [non-student] community has been welcome for three years but now they're banned. They could install CCTV cameras or an alarm system.

"We don't feel comfortable any more, I don't feel like the university respects me or my opinion. …

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