Three German universities announced the closure of their prayer rooms. We are talking about the Technical University of Berlin, the Technical University of Dortmund and the University of Duisburg-Essen .
The leadership of each university explains its decision differently, but all these explanations have similar arguments.
Thus, the leadership of the University of Duisburg-Essen stated that when the prayer room opened 20 years ago, Muslim students did not have the opportunity to pray in areas adjacent to the university, whereas now there is no shortage of such rooms.
The statement, however, is also felt in the Islamophobic context, veiled under the protection of the principles of equality. In particular, it is claimed that the prayer room, allocated for students of all faiths, has been usurped by Muslims, moreover, inside it, in fact, the space is divided into male and female parts, which allegedly discriminates women. The university management states in this connection that students of 130 nationalities study there and it is not possible for it to provide each denomination with premises, and the allocation of premises only for one violates the principle of equality.
Rector of the Technical University of Berlin Christian Thomsen , commenting on his decision, also referred to the fact that now Muslim students do not have problems to perform a prayer near the university, since there are enough such facilities.
Muslim students, however, disagree with such formulations. 400 of them have already signed a petition demanding the return of prayer rooms to universities. Of course, a place for prayers can also be found outside, but this will distract students from the educational process, since it takes time to reach such a place and return.
Imader of the Berlin Mosque “Sekhetlik” Ender Tsetin believes that Muslim students will still find opportunities to perform obligatory prayers, and is not inclined to dramatize the situation. At the same time, it is impossible not to notice that this decision coincided with the growth of Islamophobic sentiments in the society. Moreover, in contrast to the hysteria against asylum seekers, which inflate the opposition parties, anti-Islamic sentiment in the “moderate” form of heats and the ruling party CDU .
However, this did not prevent the leadership of another university from announcing the opening of a prayer room this year in Cologne.