Students protest after Hackney college bans segregation curtain used by Muslims

Muslim men angered as ‘decency curtain’ is removed

They have accused chiefs at Hackney Community College in Falkirk Street, Shoreditch, of “discrimination” after it took down the drapes in the college’s multi-faith facility.

But the college says the room is for students and staff “of all faiths and none” and its actions are in line with its values of equality and inclusion.

A group of students have now started a petition demanding the curtain be replaced and have so far collected 30 signatures, including men and women of different faiths.

“Having the curtain is important because in Islam the men and women have to prostrate to pray,” said business student Kamil Alp,20.

“It’s very inappropriate if a man does it in the presence of a woman when she is also prostrating.”

Prostration involves having the forehead, nose, both hands, knees and all toes touching the ground at the same time.

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Several years ago, some students erected their own dividing curtain to support segregated prayer. But it was removed by college staff.

Kamil, said many Muslim students were being forced to pray in the corridors.

“I feel discriminated against as they have given us the prayer room but are not letting us use it in the way we need to” he added.

A college spokeswoman said the room had been designed as a place where students and staff – of all faiths or none – could practice individual reflection or prayer.

She said the college had made arrangements with mosques for Muslim students requiring segregation.

“We are aware not all students are happy with the current arrangements,” she said. We need to balance the needs of all students to enable access in line with our values of inclusion.

“However we welcome ongoing debate on the issue.”