WUPPERTAL – A letter in Wuppertal’s high school, western Germany, stating that teachers should report names of Muslim students found praying at school, has sparked outcry on social media, with many calling it a “prayer ban”.
The letter was reportedly sent by the school administration to teachers and later shared on Facebook, according to Der Westen on Thursday.
“In the last few weeks, it has increasingly been observed that Muslim students are praying, quite visibly to others, indicated by ritual washing in the bathrooms, the rolling out of prayer rugs, and by the students putting their bodies in certain positions. That is not permitted,” the letter, cited by Deutsche Welle, stated.
Teachers were further told to “report” any similar cases to the administration and to “ascertain” names of students.
Shared on Facebook, the message has since sparked uproar on social media, with one user asking: “Why can not they pray? And in this a country as deeply religious as Germany, which has become as open and tolerant as we are today.”
“Even our shepherdess constantly calls upon a thorough knowlege of the Bible,” he added in an apparent reference to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Referring to Germany’s Constitution, another user asked: “What was that again about religious freedom? Article 4 of the German Constitution?”
Elsewhere on Facebook other users praised the decision: “I think the letter’s great. Such things do not belong in a school.”
Another asked: “Can we allow them to roll out their carpets in the school?”
While the school would not comment to Der Westen, the responsible government authority in the state capital of Düsseldorf confirmed that the letter shared online was authentic and sent on February 16th.
The Düsseldorf authority further explained that Muslim students were “praying provocatively” inside the school building. This was making other students and teachers feel uncomfortable, so the administration decided to step in.
“The ban on praying in a provocative manner in public school spaces is supposed to encourage peaceful coexistence and assure school peace,” the authority wrote in a statement.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany said that there was no general ban on praying, and that the school administration is currently in discussions with the impacted students and local Muslim religious leaders.