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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jihad Watch Has Photos on UC Irvine

Hat tip Jihad Watch

Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch has posted photos of an area adjacent to the Cross Cultural Center at UC Irvine, which is used every day by Muslim students to conduct their prayers.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/11/university-of-california-irvine-allows-muslim-prayer-in-area-restricted-to-all-othersted.html

(No, the photos did not come from Yours Truly.)

All I can add is that the pictures are accurate, that this area has long been a hangout for the MSU students,  that they do, indeed, conduct their prayers there, and that they have been known to ask outsiders to leave when they are praying. If you walk into that area, you will draw looks. And yes, there is a call to prayer. On one occasion this year, I observed a young man standing on the wall in front of the patio and facing out over Ring Road ( the principal campus walkway) giving the call to prayer

In addition, a few days ago, someone called the UCI Fire Marshall's Office to inquire about the sign. The caller was told that the sign had been in place for the past four years, that there were similar signs all over the campus, that the rule was not strictly enforced, and in this case, would have to be enforced by the Cross Cultural Center, which is located next to the patio. (Whether that patio is part of the CCC is dubious. There is a university building directly behind the patio, but the doors are locked, and there appear to be no active rooms on that side of the building, which houses the campus newspaper office to the rear.)

As to the first point that the sign has been in place for four years, that is simply not true.  I can testify personally to that. I don't know when it was put up, but the first time I saw it was this past Monday afternoon. I can tell you that the sign was recently put up. Just one look tells you the sign is not 4 years old. It is fairly new. As to there being similar signs all over campus, that is surprising to me as well. On Thursday, I walked all around Ring Road and checked a few courtyards. I saw no other such sign anywhere on campus.

My question is why was this sign recently put up by the university fire marshal. Could it have been to stop the use of the patio by the MSU for their daily prayers? I seriously doubt it. If so, it is being ignored. That raises the question of whether the fire marshal put up the sign, in effect, to keep others out of the patio area, which in effect, is the MSU gathering place. If the university wants the area clear in case of fire, why is there a metal picnic-type table with bench and soda machines there?

This all raises the question of restriction of religious practices (Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day at specified hours) and whether public displays of prayers might violate some government code of separation of church and state. There is, in fact, a non-denominational chapel facility on the campus that is available for all religions to use. Another question is whether a university should put its imprimatur on a certain part of the campus being restricted to one group. Obviously, that is not official, but unofficially, perhaps?  If UCI really wants to have a certain section of its (public) campus reserved for Muslims, why not just put a sign up that says, "Muslims only"? Is that really what the average Muslim student wants? I would hope not.

So why is that sign there? Is it to keep the Muslims from praying there or to keep non-Muslims out?

But don't ask me; I'm just a part-time teacher here. Inquiries should be directed to UC Irvine.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it farily easy for student groups to get a room on campus to carry out club/organization activities?

Couldn't they just get a room if they wanted to pray out of the public view?

I seriously doubt the University put up the sign to designate the area for the MSU or other Muslim students to pray there.

Seems like a non-issue unless they kick other people hanging out from that area.

Gary Fouse said...

Anonymous,

As to your first question, there is a campus non-denominational chapel available. As to your second, yes, they could. That leads to the question as to why many Muslims choose to do prayers out in the public. There are different theories about that.

As to #3, had the sign designated the space as being reserved for Muslim prayers, they (UCI)would be quite vulnerable to criticism, would they not-perhaps, even a lawsuit though I am not a lawyer.

As to number 4, as I stated, there have been instances where non-Muslims, particularly women were asked by Muslim students to leave the area when they were praying.

So if you have an open public area on a public (state) campus, and Muslims are asking non-Muslims to leave while they are praying, is that a non-issue to you?