Muslim students in Denmark banned from praying during school hours

‘Religion belongs to private life,’ says school director

Kayleigh Lewis
Tuesday 14 June 2016 13:47
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Religion and education don't belong together, according to a school in Denmark
Religion and education don't belong together, according to a school in Denmark

Students at a school for health care and education in Denmark have been told they cannot pray during working hours because "religion and education do not belong together".

A Muslim student from SOPU Hillerød, which is in Northern Copenhagen, highlighted the ban in a photograph which was posted on Facebook by a friend and received hundreds of likes.

In the picture, the woman held a sign which read: “New from the director. May one pray at SOPU Hillerød? The answer is NO!”

Inger Margrethe Jensen, the schools director, confirmed the decision, saying: “We have reminded our students about it and reprinted our code of conduct because we have had some incidents that required that we brush up on things,” Danish newspaper BT reported.

“Some [students] wanted to establish a prayer room on school property and the Muslims’ prayers have become far more visible because in some cases and they have used the hallways to pray. Religion and education don’t belong together – it belongs to the private life.

“We’ve been asked why they can’t pray at specific times because there are some Islamic directions that one should pray at specific times and it is unfortunate because it just adds more fuel to the fire on Islamism.”

Mia Victoria Lunderød Hansen, a student at the school who posted the image of her friend to her Facebook page, said: “We students don’t think this is right and therefore we’ve gone around the school collecting signatures.”

“A situation like this should be taken care of [because] we believe that everyone should be treated equally.”

Although the woman from the picture has not spoken publicly about the issue, her sister-in-law, Maria Fischer Walldorf, told radio station Radio24syv: “I simply cannot understand it. I can certainly understand those who say that they don’t want things forced upon them – religion is a private thing.” The Local reported.

“One shouldn’t be allowed to force things on others, but there shouldn’t be others who force things on me [like saying] that I should follow Danish culture and not pray,” she said.

In May, an adult education centre – also in Copenhagen – barred female students from attending classes unless they removed their niqabs.

Inge Voller, the deputy headteacher at VUC Lyngby, told Metroexpress: “It is not a question of religion or ethnicity, but on learning, as we are an educational institution.

“It is about how we create the best learning and we believe the best way, if you can communicate freely with each other.”

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