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UK University Shuts Muslim Prayer Room

Published: 22/02/2013 01:18:15 PM GMT
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LONDON - A British university has been facing accusations of discriminating against its Muslim students, following its sudden decision to shut their prayer room on campus.“We feel we are being unjustly targeted,” Wasif She (more)

LONDON - A British university has been facing accusations of discriminating against its Muslim students, following its sudden decision to shut their prayer room on campus.

“We feel we are being unjustly targeted,” Wasif Sheikh, a Muslim student at City University, told The BBC on Friday, February 22.

Studying at City University, Sheikh was one of the Muslim students who were shocked by the decision of their university to shut their prayer room.

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The decision followed a statement from the university saying it needed to be sure of the "appropriateness" of what was being discussed in sermons as authorized university events.

It said it also needed to be assured that all "students eligible to deliver" prayers and sermons "are considered equally and given the opportunity to do so".

"The university could not continue to condone an activity taking place on its premises where it cannot exercise reasonable supervision,” the statement added.

Suspicions surrounding the content of the sermons followed a report released three years ago by Quilliam Foundation think tank.

It claimed hard line views and a confrontational atmosphere were being encouraged.

"If there was no past history at the university, I think what the students are saying would sound extremely reasonable. However, there has been quite a vicious and nasty history there,” Dr Usama Hasan from the Quilliam Foundation.

"They have to deal with that and give a bit more to the university.

"Both sides need to compromise here and negotiate with some difficult conversations."

Yet, there was no evidence those views are still being spread now.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.

There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in the European country.

Unjustly Targeted

Confirming that they were "unjustly targeted", the students formed a group titled Muslim Voices on Campus, calling on the university to reverse its decision.

“All of our sermons are open, we welcome all students and all staff.”

"But when you start submitting your sermons to be monitored and scrutinized then there's a chance for it to be dictated what's allowed and what's not allowed.

“We, as students, don't accept that,” he added.

In 2008, a Cambridge University study found that young British Muslims on university campuses represent a generation of well-integrated citizens rather than disaffected extremists.

Their study, based on detailed interviews with students in London, Cambridge and Bradford, concluded that fears of campus extremism were very much "exaggerated" and Muslim students are more likely to join Amnesty International than Al-Qaeda.

Yet, a new cache of documents for security high sensitive information revealed in 2011 that Muslim students were victims of unjustified monitoring inside british campuses.

The Unileaks, dubbed after the famous whistleblower website WikiLeaks, published over 200 internal documents for University of Nottingham and the Government last June 12.

The cache of documents includes highly sensitive material, for example, from the Met Police Special Branch, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Home Office and Dept for Universities (BIS) and others.

The released Unileaks also details techniques deployed to monitor Muslim students four days after the Government published its Prevent terrorism strategy.

Reproduced with permission from