Hundreds have signed the controversial petition.
Lucas Porquet, 31-year-old GoHigher Politics and Philosophy student, is submitting a formal complaint to Liverpool University over its ‘Muslim prayer room’. At the time of writing, the complaint has amassed more than 240 supporting signatures.
Porquet tells The Sphinx that he feels excluded on the Liverpool campus because of his Christian faith. “Prayer is the basis of all belief,” he says, “it is spiritual food.”
“I go to the prayer room and think it’s a multi-faith prayer room, and I end up seeing there is no place for me.”
The room allegedly caters only for Islamic-style prayer, where men and women are required to worship separately. Muslim students and staff pray together as a congregation for Friday Prayers.
Porquet’s complaint compares the situation to U.S. racial segregation and offers the university three options to resolve the issue. Option A involves the creation of a separate Christian prayer room, while option B calls for the prayer room to become “a true prayer room only”, where all religions can worship freely. The final option is the closure of the Sydney Jones prayer room. According to Porquet, this would be a last resort.
The Sydney Jones library features a number of signs with the generic “Prayer Room” label, including the large metallic sign located behind the Help Desk. However, a number of other signs – in particular, those situated close to the room itself on the lower ground floor – label the space a “Muslim Prayer Room”. It is unclear whether or not this disparity in wording is the result of a recent change.
The University of Liverpool website boasts of a “dedicated Muslim Prayer Room which is located within the Sydney Jones Library.”
“This facility has been purpose-built to meet the needs of Muslim students and includes male and female storage, washing and prayer areas.”
According to Darren Mooney, the university’s Diversity and Equality Officer and Chair of the Prayer Room Committee, there are a number of chaplains available to students belonging to a range of Christian and Jewish denominations, and the Foundation Building has a faith-based drop-in centre. Though the Liverpool campus has no multi-faith prayer room, the University of Liverpool’s London Campus does feature such a room.
The most recent statistics show that 5.98% of current Liverpool students are Muslim, compared with 28.33% who identify as Christian, and 27.15% of no religion. Islam remains the most prominent minority religion, however, with Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism accounting for 2.22, 1.28 and 0.26% of the student body, respectively.
The University Press Office was contacted for comment, but chose not to respond.