Canada:Muslim students still without permanent space

Click here: The McGill Daily – Muslim students still without permanent space

Muslim students at McGill are still without a formal prayer space, after being evicted from the basement of Peterson Hall in 2005. Sana Saeed, the external relations coordinator of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), explained that many Muslim students require prayer space.

…In Saeed’s first year, she and thousands of other Muslim students had access to the basement of Peterson Hall for their daily prayers and for special events, such as the nightly iftar dinners where, each night during Ramadan, Muslim students break their fasts. In 2005, to create room for lab and office space, the MSA was evicted from Peterson and encouraged to find their own off-campus space, explained Nafay Al-Alam Choudhury, former president of the MSA. “We were all full-time students, and the administration wanted us to try and fundraise $2-million to create our own community centre,” Choudhury said.

He insisted that the Muslim community doesn’t need a facility as complex or sophisticated as Hillel House or the Newman Centre, which are off-campus facilities for Jewish and Catholic students, respectively. “We really just wanted a room, adequately sized, where we could pray. We didn’t want to fundraise for such an elaborate house,” Choudhury said.

…Prayer space is not a concern unique to McGill. After consulting over 1,000 Muslim students on 17 college and university campuses in Ontario last fall, the Canadian Federation of Students concluded that concerns about prayer space were pervasive. The federation’s Final Report of the Task Force on the Needs of Muslim Students recommended acknowledging prayer space “as a human rights issue” and establishing permanent prayer space facilities on campus.

…Administrators have offered the Birks Building Chapel as a multi-faith space available to students of all religions. Yet Muslim students point out the facility is not neutral or secular, as it displays crucifixes and stained glass portraits of Jesus. The pews do not allow for Muslim prayer.

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