Islamic students at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, HvA, have taken to praying in a stairwell as a protest against the closure of the school’s meditation room. They hope to force the school to provide them with their own prayer room. However, the school board is refusing to meet their demands.
The school board decided to close the meditation room, used by some students to pray, last year. The board says a prayer room is unnecessary. An HvA spokesperson says it is not the task of a public education facility to provide space for religious activities.
According to HvA Rector Jet Bussemaker, the university decided to close the meditation room after a number of alarming e-mails from Muslim students. They said the existence of a meditation room forced them to use it to pray. The HVA spokesperson added, “The young women come here to be educated, to be emancipated. That’s part of our function as a university. This is not a mosque. The largest mosque in Amsterdam is just a 10 minute walk from here. Anyone who really feels they have to pray can walk to the mosque. The students also walk round the corner to get a cup of coffee or a sandwich.”