Prayer room vandalised at Keele University

Local media reports last week suggest several buildings on the Keele University campus were vandalised in July, including the Keele University Islamic Centre.

Muslim students discovered the wreckage when they arrived for morning prayers on 22 July, forcing them to move Friday afternoon prayers outside.

With vandals also attacking a neighbouring office, the damage to the Islamic Centre was extensive.

Six windows were reportedly broken and paint was thrown on the walls, while bookshelves were knocked over and books defaced, with pages of a Quran ripped out. The floor is also said to have smelt of urine.

Although the damage done to the Islamic Centre appears to have been part of a larger incident of vandalism, the fact a Quran was defaced and the floor where students pray was urinated on has raised concerns the faith centre was targeted due to the religious beliefs of its members.

The university handed CCTV footage of the Islamic Centre to local police, and a 27 year old man from Newcastle was arrested and released on bail.

A spokesperson for Keele University Islamic Society has said the group is still waiting for confirmation from the police as to whether or not this incident will be labelled a hate crime.

However, a recent disturbing trend of anti-Muslim graffiti on university campuses highlights the need to take such incidents seriously.

Last month, anti-Muslim graffiti was reported at the University of Leicester, where posters promoting an Eid festival were defaced with a swastika.

In May, meanwhile, racist graffiti at Durham University referred to a “Muslim monkey”.

This followed an incident in March, when two men were arrested after they pulled off a Muslim student’s niqab outside the Strand campus of King’s College London (KCL).

Here at Student Rights, we hope Keele University will take this incident seriously, and review any security procedures in place dealing with prayer rooms.

We would also urge students at the university to report any further incidents or concerns.

No student should feel marginalised or isolated while studying, and universities must remain vigilant to the ways in which incidents like this one can lead to such feelings.

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