A high school in western Germany has prohibited Muslim students from using prayer mats and other religious rituals saying “the act is provocative to other students”.
The ban against Islamic prayers and anything related to the activity has ignited a debate on freedom of religion and religious practices in Germany.
The administration of Wuppertal school gave a notification to its staff last month to identify students offering the religious act in public using prayer mats. The directives came after a few teachers complained about students and their praying activity owing to which they felt pressured in the school premises.
“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 notification read.
A copy of the letter was also posted on social media, making people comment on the issue and sparking different reactions on it.
Following widespread criticism, the municipal authorities said the context of the letter was ‘unfortunate’ and the school management was just concerned about the other students being affected by the public praying.
The authorities also went on to justify the decision that the school management was allowed to stop pupils from “praying in a provocative manner”.
“Banning provocative praying in the school’s public space should promote peaceful coexistence and peace within the school,” the regional administration of the city said.
The banning of prayers in the school comes when Germany is reeling from the refugee crisis fueling anti-Muslim sentiments in the country. The country’s right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has long adopted an anti-Islam stance in their manifesto amid the crisis. The party termed the school’s decision “onteresting and “sensible” measure in one of their Facebook’s post recently.
The article originally appeared on Al Jazeera