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The University of East Anglia tells Muslim students to pray in multi-faith room even though it's too small


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Three weeks ago, the University of East Anglia permanently closed its Muslim prayer room without consultation or input from the university’s Islamic society.

Muslim students expressed their shock at finding out that the university was permanently removing the prayer space in order to build a corridor to the library, one week before Ramadan.

In a petition launched by UEA Islamic Society they expressed concerns that the Multi-Faith Centre would not fit all current students of faith and the 600+ Muslim students and the facilities were inadequate.

They also claimed that the university was telling students to perform the holy wash in public toilets, meaning that Muslim women would have to remove their headscarves in front of others.

“In response to the university's refusal to listen to the voices of Muslim students and try to cramp them into the public toilets of an unsuitable building to conduct ablution,” they wrote, “we are taking direct action.”

"The university hasn't officially said anything to us and they are refusing to release plans. We do not feel as though there is something which will bring more value to the university than the prayer room.

"There are talk that it will be a corridor, but students find that this is unnecessary especially since it brings the loss of the prayer room.”

Consequently, prayer in the square was organised and students from across UEA joined in solidarity with their Muslim peers.

The petition has now received over 6,600 signatures. 

Speaking to The National Student, UEA Islamic Society said:

"We are having regular meetings with the Head of the Dean of Students, Head of Estates, Head of University Spaces and others. However, not much is being confirmed so far and progress is very slow.

"We are working towards an alternative to the multi faith centre, but now it is clear that they will proceed to abolish our current prayer rooms some time next year.

"We are not guaranteed anything permanent and they don't even accept to admit that the multi-faith centre is unsuitable, since ‘some Muslim students use it.’”

However, the university has stated that the move is temporary, and that "the use of a prayer facility near Lecture Theatre 2 will be temporarily unavailable for safety reasons during the building works.

"That facility will become available to Muslim students again from the beginning of the new academic year.”

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