An Oldham academy has issued a ‘wholehearted’ apology and installed a new Muslim prayer room after a video showing Muslim students praying outside in the cold sparked community outrage.
“We would like to offer a sincere apology,” an Oldham Academy North school spokesperson said, Asian Image reported.
“We are proud of our diversity and have never, and would never, stop students from praying or ask them to pray outside.”
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The video, shared on social media, showed male pupils at Oldham Academy North conducting their Jummah (Friday) prayers outside.
In the clip, around eight boys can be clearly seen kneeling with their heads bowed on the pavement, while a member of the school’s staff wearing a hi-visibility jacket appears to watch over them.
Pupil Involved Speaks Out
A pupil who was involved said the group had to pray outside. The pupil who did not wish to be named said: “We weren’t actually kicked out of the school, it is just rumors, we were just told that we can’t pray at that time.”
“We were praying Jummah and a teacher came in and told us we aren’t allowed to pray in that room and she slammed the door and seemed angry.
“We have had a prayer room for a long time, teachers would allow us to go there for our prayers.”
Muslim leaders in the community have promised to work more closely with the school to prevent any similar incidents from occurring in the future.
“When we were made aware of the issues raised at the Oldham Academy North, we acted quickly to speak with the school to understand what had happened,” Oldham Council Leader, Arooj Shah, said, Daily Mail reported.
“Having spoken with the school leaders I am glad they have apologized to those who were affected and will be writing to parents to explain. Oldham is a proud and diverse borough and I know that the Oldham Academy North sees this as a strength for the school.
“We will continue conversations with the school around this matter to investigate the situation properly.”
Oldham Mosques Council Development Officer, Mufti Helal Mahmood, said: “We will be working closely with Oldham Academy North to ensure incidents like this can be avoided in the future.
“We have a strong history in Oldham of working together across different communities and faiths.
“We must not let ourselves be divided when issues arise but work through them in partnership to achieve peaceful resolutions.”
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made up of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.