Video of Muslim students 'banned from worshipping indoors' prompts Seven Kings school to open multi-faith prayer room
PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:37 13 March 2019
A Seven Kings secondary school is considering setting up a multi-faith prayer room after a video purporting to show students banned from praying inside went viral.
Seven Kings High School, in Ley Street, released a statement yesterday (March 12) after footage of a group of students praying outside was posted on Twitter and “raised a number of concerns from staff and parents”.
The video – which was retweeted more than 4,900 times before being removed – was accompanied by the message “sixth form wouldn’t let us pray jummah [Friday prayers] so we just prayed outside”.
Dozens of boys in school uniform could be seen seen standing in the school yard standing in three rows.
In response, the school said it has “engaged with Imams and community leaders as well as the Redbridge community engagement coordinator and decided to:
“1. Explore the setting up of a multi-faith prayer room with our young students, to ensure we are meeting their needs and wellbeing.
“2. Open any potential prayer room to all our students, male and female, who wish to pray.”
In the meantime, students are encouraged “to continue to attend the local mosque [Seven Kings Mosque, in High Road,] on Fridays as agreed”, it adds.
The school will also immediately offer female students a prayer space, after learning that there are no facilities for them to do so at the High Road mosque.
Redbridge Council’s Labour leader Jas Athwal said: “We’ve worked closely with Seven Kings and local community leaders to ensure there has been a positive outcome for the students and the school.”
Before the school released its statement, the Recorder spoke with Omar Khalid, of Vista Drive, who was among those concerned community members who wrote to Seven Kings High.
He said he had been speaking with current and former students and helped them write to the school and MPs to demand change.
“A teacher might turn up and remove then from the classroom, giving the explanation that there is a mosque locally that they can go to,” said the 24-year-old.
“But the nearest mosque is a 15-minute walk away and Friday prayer takes 20 minutes.”
He added: “They haven’t asked to pray during lessons or for any special treatment.”
“They have just asked for a classroom that they can use for five minutes a day during lunchtime and 20 minutes on Fridays.”
A petition for a multi-faith prayer room has also received more than 1,900 signatures.