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‘We cannot allow this’ - UEA Muslim students hold open-air prayer in protest at loss of religious space

PUBLISHED: 12:58 20 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:58 20 May 2017

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

Hundreds of Muslim university students stood in solidarity by holding an open-air prayer in protest at the loss of their religious space.

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

The University of East Anglia (UEA) students learned a week before Ramadan, through an unofficial source, that they were to temporarily lose their prayer room due to a £2m refurbishment of its main lecture theatres.

Instead they were offered the Multi-Faith Centre for their main Friday prayers, even though a university report in 2014 deemed it inadequate for that purpose.

Students will also be able to use the university’s Blackdale main hall in the evenings. They will also be able to use them for Friday prayers, but only when exam season is over.

A UEA spokesman said: “As part of a £2m investment in new library study spaces and the complete refurbishment of the university’s main lecture theatres the use of a prayer facility near Lecture Theatre 2 will be temporarily unavailable for safety reasons during the building works.

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“That facility will become available to Muslim students again from the beginning of the new academic year. A working group has been established to consider longer-term solutions.”

The Muslim students sat together in the centre of the square for one of their daily prayers in demonstration at the change. They were joined by non-Muslim supporters, who joined hands and encircled them in a bid to show solidarity.

Former president of the Islamic Society at the university, Meanha Begun, said: “I have been part of the Islamic Society here at UEA for a number of years. To me it means everything to have an adequate space where we feel respected.

“We hope this demonstration will be enough for UEA to hear our voices. We want permanent prayer facilities.”

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Student Amina Abdul-Aziz said: “I feel it’s my duty to stand up for my faith.

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with my fellow students. We cannot allow this. As Muslims our day is planned around five times of prayer. It means a lot to us. Prayer is the centre of our student life. It will affect our wellbeing.

“The multi-faith centre that has been offered is not adequate for 600 Muslim students – it is a space for 60. It will compromise the other faith groups who use it too.”

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. James Cooper. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. James Cooper. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY UEA Muslim students gather at the UEA to pray. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

27 comments

  • Piranha I agree with you I am totally an atheist. Religion is a dangerous fantasy. However if we allow one religion (Christianity for example) then we must be tolerant to all the others. What we are seeing from a number of comments is intolerance towards one religion in particular. Such stupidity is disturbing

    Report this comment

    Alchemist

    Monday, May 22, 2017

  • Also if you don't like your free education then get on your imaginary flying carpet and return to your homeland and pray there!

    Report this comment

    rob

    Monday, May 22, 2017

  • Can't see the problem Closed for safety reasons and they've shown they can obviously pray outside or anywhere they choose. Also oldest "students" I've ever seen....

    Report this comment

    Only saying..

    Monday, May 22, 2017

  • Bollards Alchemist. Religion is all hocus pocus, as real as Hogwarts, Middle Earth and Tatooine. You're born, you live, you die. Religion, afterlife, heaven whatever you believe in is made up for people who can't face the facts of life and need to fantasise about what happens when they die.

    Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Monday, May 22, 2017

  • There have been a number of interesting comments about this and, unfortunately a number of blatantly anti Muslim pieces of propaganda. Muslims are a minority in Norwich but that is not a reason to launch a diatribe against them when they speak out against something that makes it difficult to practice their religion. Some countries have totally oppressive policies and many attitudes to women in particular in Muslim countries is totally wrong. But we should fight to preserve the right to religious freedom in our country. That includes the right of people to practice whatever their religion is. So I stand with Muslims who want to have a place to practice and stand totally against their medieval religious beliefs. These are not incompatible positions to take

    Report this comment

    Alchemist

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • and one more thing i have just noticed upon revisiting this page. if all the "equal rights for everyone" gang are so concerned about the rights of the devout , why are none of them asking why the women are all having to pray separately, at the back of the men, divided by a a respectful distance?. or would that not fit in with their agenda?

    Report this comment

    blueboy

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • Why are we pandering to one religion? This is clearly religious fascism and has to stop. If you are going to believe in narnia then do so but don't do so at the expense of every other religion. And as for the university big wigs grow some bollox and stop this favouritism.

    Report this comment

    Eddie McNally

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • If Christian students made a similar protest in a Muslim country, would these UEA students support them? I think we all know the answer to that.

    Report this comment

    angry taxpayer

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • While I don't see it being a major issue due to it being temporary and for safety reasons I also shake my head in disbelief at some of the comments on here. If you are above the age of 12 comments like 'go back to where you came from' and 'raining sausages and bacon' are frankly pathetic

    Report this comment

    daveyb1979

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • This does seem to be a bit of a non-issue given that it is only a temporary closure, we all put up with inconveniences like this from time to time . Prayer at home or in a smaller space is fine and if more space is needed for Friday prayers, there are mosques in the city who I'm sure would be perfectly welcoming... Some comments here have shown astounding ignorance..ill-informed, discriminatory comments do absolutely nothing to help anyone.

    Report this comment

    happilyeverafter

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Don't think there's enough photos.....Can you not find some more?...;)

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • If you want to talk about religions then, as an atheist, I find it all rather amusing. However, how about if all the Protestants had to leave the churches and cathedrals they 'stole' from the Catholics? After all, those buildings were taken with force by Henry the Eighth and his successors. The 'go back to where you came from' card is noisy and unnecessary. It comes from the same root as 'no blacks and Irish'. Intolerant discrimination. We should be able to rise above that and also above the intolerances of Islam.

    Report this comment

    Alchemist

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Approximately 140 people on the prey mats. Not hundreds as claimed. If they are that desperate to kneel before a fictional character then there's the old pub on Dereham road.

    Report this comment

    mattc1

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Christians have been finding their praying areas rather limited in Muslim majority countries. Muslims need to understand that in secular society, their religion is not above practicality and the majority.

    Report this comment

    pieman77

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Excellent comment blueboy! And when will the nu-left learn that the radicals will be just as happy to string them up too! Have they forgotten what happened in the aftermath of the I s l a m i c Revolution in Iran?

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Is there a Prayer Space for Catholics, Christians, Jews, Hindu's, Buddhist's and all the Other Religions in this World we live in ?? I Think NOT so why do Muslim's Demand a Prayer Space !! Outrageous

    Report this comment

    CanarySid

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • in a seat of science, medicine and learning, that this many supposed 'intelligent' idiots gather together to pray to an imaginary sky fairy is amazing. so much for enlightenment eh?. also good to see the "vegetable rights and peace" set standing around them with the little 'right-on' placards. be good to follow these clowns when they head out into the real world and see how long their cosseted views last.

    Report this comment

    blueboy

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • The UEA Islamic society claims 600 Muslim students need to pray every Friday at the same time ? Well there is not 600 students in the square , even if you minus 60 at the multi faith centre , accept what you are giving or go to another university

    Report this comment

    Norwich

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • The UEA Islamic society claims 600 Muslim students need to pray every Friday at the same time ? Well there is not 600 students in the square , even if you minus 60 at the multi faith centre , accept what you are giving or go to another university

    Report this comment

    Norwich

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • They should think themselves lucky. Would we be allowed to do a similar thing in their country. I very much doubt it.

    Report this comment

    JEN

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • It's a university !!! Maybe they should have picked a university more for there needs .. Luton , Bradford

    Report this comment

    Norwich

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • UEA must not give in to these demanding Muslims, who do they think they to claim land that's clearly not theirs, maybe they should go back whence they came if they feel discriminated against. The world does not revolve around them and their religion and the UEA certainly has right right to move them on. What next, maybe they'll try to claim other parts of our once fine Muslim free city.

    Report this comment

    Oh matron

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • "we cannot allow this"...... really?. Maybe Norwich isn't the problem maybe ENGLAND is just too small because there are just too many people all trying to live on one island. Sorry but if you choose to live here then think how we feel. "we" don't have enough space to park all our cars...

    Report this comment

    FredJ

    Friday, May 19, 2017

  • Using the discrimination card because they can't get their own way

    Report this comment

    Norwich

    Friday, May 19, 2017

  • Always demanding...

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Friday, May 19, 2017

  • Sick of hearing about Muslims demanding this and that.

    Report this comment

    rob

    Friday, May 19, 2017

  • As long as this is only a temporary problem i cant see it causing too much disruption, having said that if there are 600 muslim students and they have to pray the same time everyday altogether, then theyre gonna need a bigger room, temp too. Im glad in the nicest way that it will effect all the different religions and not just one single religion, thats fair.

    Report this comment

    Sayitlikeitis

    Friday, May 19, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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