CAIRO – A London university Muslim students have raised concerns after being forced for the second week to pray in the rain in protest against inadequate resources for Muslim prayers on their campus.
"We really believe it's the university's responsibility," Queen Mary Student Union president Sarah Sarwar told The Independent.
Progress in negotiations has been "positive so far."
Sarwar joined hundreds of students last Friday to pray outside for the second time in two weeks.
Accounting for 20 percent of the student body, the college's 20-year-old Islamic Society had been able to book several large communal spaces for congregational Friday prayers.
But from the start of this academic year, students have been told the rooms are unavailable.
The prayer, attended by 350 Muslim students, dared the rain to protest the university’s inadequate resources for Muslims on their Mile End campus.
Principal Professor Simon Gaskell suggested students attend local mosques for the mass prayer, and denied any change in policy.
"We say we're here to accommodate private acts of worship... like most universities we are very pressed for resources," said the Principal, adding that the facilities are unavailable due to demand.
The claims were dismissed by Muslim students, saying that they carried out spot checks on the Great Hall and Octagon, rooms they were told were unavailable for booking, only to find them empty.
They also say that local mosques are oversubscribed.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.
Muslim student urged the university officials to offer proper facilities for prayers, describing the overcrowding of university-provided prayer rooms on Fridays where the stairs and hallways are rammed.
"We are grateful for what the university has provided," said Awo Abib, who graduated last July, "but the facilities don't reflect the demographic."
Alamgir Islaam, the president of Islamic Society of Queen Mary University, said that the university campus should be inclusive to all faiths.
"In order for the university to be in accordance with their claim to be inclusive to all faiths... they must take into consideration that this prayer must be performed in a certain way," Islaam said after leading Friday’s prayers.
There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in the European country.
In 2008, a Cambridge University study found that young British Muslims on university campuses represent a generation of well-integrated citizens rather than disaffected extremists.
Their study, based on detailed interviews with students in London, Cambridge and Bradford, concluded that fears of campus extremism were very much "exaggerated" and Muslim students are more likely to join Amnesty International than Al-Qaeda.
Yet, a new cache of documents for security high sensitive information revealed in 2011 that Muslim students were victims of unjustified monitoring inside british campuses.
The Unileaks, dubbed after the famous whistleblower website WikiLeaks, published over 200 internal documents for University of Nottingham and the Government last June 12.
The cache of documents includes highly sensitive material, for example, from the Met Police Special Branch, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Home Office and Dept for Universities (BIS) and others.
The released Unileaks also details techniques deployed to monitor Muslim students four days after the Government published its Prevent terrorism strategy.
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