Protect Faith On Campus: Save the UEA Islamic Centre!

Despite promises of an Islamic Centre in the University’s 2012/13 Prospectus [http://bit.ly/L35BgX p.45], the Islamic Centre on campus at the University of East Anglia is set to be demolished over the summer as planning permission for the temporary building expires in August.

There are no plans to replace the facility; instead those who use the Islamic Centre, which can amount to well over 500 people per day, will be re-housed in the Chaplaincy building on campus. Members of the Union voted and passed policy indicating that the Chaplaincy is not an adequate multi-faith facility in 2011.

The news came as a surprise to the Union and Muslim staff and students at UEA; the plans were filtered down just last week from the University via the Muslim Chaplain, who volunteers his service to help run the UEA Islamic Centre. The news hit those most affected just as students finish exams and head home for the holidays.

The Islamic Community is set to host a demonstration on campus on Friday afternoon at 2pm with the support of the Union to oppose the demolition and raise awareness of the issue, which is the beginning of the “Protect Faith on Campus: Save the UEA Islamic Centre” campaign. The Union has also created a petition set to be released this evening

Union of UEA Students Communications Officer, Matthew Myles, said: “This University has promised an Islamic Centre to prospective students and to returning students for next year without any plans to provide one. It sets an uncomfortable precedent that the University may fail to deliver on things that are promised to students paying at least £9k, and without notifying anybody that will be affected. Especially one that could prove central to their student experience.

Faith can be a central aspect of a student’s life; many Muslim students would not have come to UEA knowing there would not be adequate facilities for them to practice their faith. The Union believes that all students should have access to adequate facilities to practice their faith in a manner that they are satisfied with, and we believe that the Chaplaincy building does not meet these criteria.”

Sign the petition and join the campaign to protect faith on campus and save the UEA Islamic Centre!

 

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4 thoughts on “Protect Faith On Campus: Save the UEA Islamic Centre!

  1. For the past three years UEA Islamic Centre has been an essential part of my student life in UEA. I visit the Islamic Centre almost every day especially in the winter time when the prayer times are short in which I have to pray in campus.

    Not only that but the centre has helped me spiritually while going through tough and stressful time during my study. At one time I was really depressed and UEA Counselling service and the Islamic Centre have helped me overcome my depression.

    I think it is unfair of UEA to close the Islamic Centre without firstly communicate the plan with us and discuss together for solution. I feel utterly betrayed and I would not encouraged fellow students from my country to study at UEA and advise them to choose other university with better value for money which support students’ faith.

  2. I`m deeply sad and disappointed with the university act toward the Islamic centre. I am a postgraduate student and I came two years ago to England to do my degree. This was my first time away from home and I was so scared that I will end up isolated and keeping myself to myself because I will not be allowed to express myself freely and practice my daily prayers.
    I was wrong and simply because of the support the Islamic centre provided to me. I needed help to get my head around the prayers time, direction of qibla, fasting and finding the halal food. And once I was there I met a lot of students and other Muslim families from different countries and backgrounds who brought together by the Islamic centre. Actually, this ,make me more open to other people differences and backgrounds and since I felt that I was given the space to be myself I learnt to give people the space they need to be their selves regardless of their religion and values.
    I am so happy and fit in the university which reflected on my study and it Just break my heart that the support I found once with the Islamic centre is no longer will be available to the new students.
    I believe this decision is coming from someone who really lacks the knowledge about the value of the mosque for a Muslim. We pray 5 times, we pray when we are in stress and we pray to thank for blessings. We pray for eid and for someone who died, we break our fast together in Ramadan and reflect on our lives or others in Friday prayers which all take place at the Islamic centre.
    UEA serve the Norwich community in many ways and I think this decision ignore a big part of this community.
    The chaplaincy is so small to get all of us five times a day and in Fridays. We can’t pray in a room where people step inside with shoes or display crosses or any statues. I wonder if they can at least offer a decent suitable alternative.
    I really wish them to consider the decision, they are not taking away just a facility for prayers it is a home, a place to find advice, to meet sisters and brothers. To get or meet with other religions with respect, break a fast with other students who as you terribly missing home and find a moment of peace during the intense work days.

  3. The university authorities have shown tremendous cultural insensitivity by not consulting the Imam or anyone from ISOC (or even one Muslim student or member of staff!) regarding the potential impact of closing the present Islamic centre on campus.
    How can the chaplaincy accommodate large numbers of Muslims praying together, particularly on Fridays and during Ramadan? How will obligatory washing facilities be available in the Chaplaincy? How will men and women be able to pray separately and in same-sex groups?
    If I was a prospective student of Muslim faith I would not attend UEA if these questions were not immediately addressed. I am surprised at the ignorance (not to mention thoughtlessness) that has propelled the decision to do away with ISOC and just assume that Muslims can pray in the chaplaincy. Every faith is different and in this day and age (and with a significant Muslim community on and around campus) it is both shocking and slightly depressing that a reputable university would not take the time to consult the community onto which this decision impacts so significantly

  4. It’s great news that the UEA Islamic Centre is staying open and there will be a proper body overlooking all its activities especially those that do not involve students.

    Historically the UEA last year did state it was because of a community group (not the local community) that lead them to take action. The part-time imam whom is hardly available or responds is head of this non-mainstream external group that calls itself the Norfolk and Norwich Muslim Association (but is almost entirely composed of those from the middle-east) and against University direction bases itself at the UEA Islamic Centre. Hence donations or promotions to other local Muslim groups is censored, facebook posts are removed…. This has gone on far too long. The UEA Islamic Society is a charity under the Union of UEA Students, we need to stop external non-mainstream Muslim groups from having so much influence.

    The place is meant to be run in a partnership primarily for staff and students with the local community warmly invited, but not run by external charities.

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