Muslim students claimed discrimination following the decision by three German universities to close their prayer rooms in the wake of complaints on at least one campus that women were being segregated in the room designed initially for interfaith prayer.
The pan-European website The Local reported that the Technical University in Dortmund, the University of Duisburg-Essen and Technical University in Berlin all closed their prayer rooms that had been used by Muslim students.
The Associated Press reported last month that Dortmund’s Technical University closed its prayer room, citing serious breaches of the German constitution, after Muslim students tried to force women to wear veils and pray only in a smaller, segregated area of the “room of silence.”
The AP quoted the Rheinische Post’s interview with a university spokeswoman who said that some Muslim students had not given equal treatment to men and women in the room.
Some Muslim students said the university was discriminating against them, a claim that was supported by a petition signed by 400, The Local reported.
Ender Cetin, chairman of the Sehitlik Mosque in Berlin, told The Local that Muslims feel they are facing discrimination. ”You easily feel discriminated against by people if they don’t talk to you and then say, ‘You can’t practice your religion as you are used to,’” Cetin said.
He said that Muslims would find a place to pray, regardless of whether the campuses dedicated a room for that purpose. ”Practicing Muslims will find a way to pray one way or another and they’ll find a place,” Cetin said.
At the Duisburg-Essen campus, the university said in a statement that it closed the 20-year-old Muslim prayer room because “with more than 130 nations at our university, we can’t offer a room for every religion or culture.”
The university also pointed out that over the years, mosques have opened nearby where students can pray.
At Berlin’s Technical University, university officials cited off-campus mosques nearby as the reason the prayer room was closed.