Sunday, March 22, 2009
Muslims demand exclusive prayer rooms at a Melbourne University - Shared prayer space is not good enough....
MELBOURNE Muslim university students will protest tomorrow, saying they are being sexually harassed and discriminated against due to a lack of prayer rooms.
But RMIT University management deny this, insisting Muslim students are well catered for.
The RMIT Islamic Society want Muslim-only prayer rooms on the university's city campus.
In late 2007, construction work on the building that contained a dedicated Muslim prayer room meant the facility was demolished.
The Islamic society said the university reneged on its promise to replace that with another room. "As a result, students and staff have been forced to pray outside in the heat of summer and the cold of winter," the society's website said.
It alleged females have been subjected to sexual abuse, harassment and religious vilification while praying.
They are now forced to pray two at a time in cramped women's rooms, corridors and empty classrooms.
The society said "enough is enough", insisting it was sick of being given the run around and would hold a mass protest at the university on Monday afternoon.
"No longer can we remain quiet and have students compromise between their safety and prayers, RMIT made a promise, it must fulfil it," the website said.
But the university described the action as "unfortunate and unnecessary".
There are already eight Muslim prayer rooms across the university's three campuses, Dr Maddy McMaster, Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) said.
"The university's policy is that prayer rooms in its spiritual centre are multi-faith, open to bookings by members of all faiths," she said.
Muslims get preferential access to two of those rooms.
"With space at a premium on our city campus, we have bent over backwards to find an amicable solution," she said.
Gestures of good faith have been rejected, she insisted.
"Multi-faith spaces are commonly accepted as supporting a range of religious practices, including those of the Muslim faith.
"It is disappointing that the RMIT Islamic Society chooses to reject established multi-faith principles," she said.
The society did not respond to AAP requests for comment.
Posted by lucy at 6:11 PM