Oslo: Muslim students want to use gym hall for prayer, deans object

Oslo: Muslim students want to use gym hall for prayer, deans object

The Muslim Student Society asked to use a gym hall at Oslo university (Blindern) for half an hour every Friday for prayer, but the university administration is skeptic.

Deans Hans Petter Graver (Law) and Trygve Wyller (Theology) are critical of such use of common areas.  They want a principle debate on how you can meet the demands for exercising one's religion and at the same time protect the common, secular space, reports Uniforum, the university's newspaper.

There's an especially big influx into the university's prayer room for Muslims on Friday afternoon, when 40-80 Muslims come in to pray.

"That we are so many means that we must stand in line to pray in several rounds," says Bushra Ishaq, head of the Muslim Student Society at Oslo University.

"We humbly asked to use an aerobics hall for prayer for half an hour every Friday, and it amazes me that the deans are making such a big issue out of it," she says.

Ishaq thinks the Muslims' Friday prayer can't be compared to Christian Sunday mass, as dean Trygve Wyller claims.

"Islam enjoins us to pray Friday prayer, but this lasts at most 20 minutes," says Ishaq.

Dean Hans Petter Graver emphasizes that allowing Muslim students to conduct such a ceremony in such a visible place as the gym hall will alter the secular space, and so before allowing such a major change, they should have a principle discussion.

Source: Budstikka (Norwegian), h/t R

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