Row over Muslims-only washrooms

A row has erupted over Muslim-only washrooms at La Trobe University that can be accessed only with a secret push-button code.

Muslim students have exclusive access to male and female washrooms on campus, sparking claims of bias and discrimination.

The university and Islamic leaders have defended the washrooms as vital to Muslim students’ prayer rituals.

A university student, who did not want to be identified, raised the issue with the Sunday Herald Sun this week.

Australian Family Council spokesman Bill Muehlenberg said concerns over the exclusive facilities were valid.

“Do we have a Christian washroom or an atheist washroom?” he said. “The whole thing is madness.”

Mr Muehlenberg said the separate facilities were divisive.

“If Muslims are saying ‘we are good Australians and want to integrate’, why are they insisting on separate washrooms?” he said.

Victorian Muslim community leader Yasser Soliman said the washrooms were necessary.

He said the separate facilities were also due to concerns from non-Muslim students.

“Muslims need to wash their feet before prayer and in the past there have been complaints about them washing their feet in sinks, so this is a happy medium,” he said.

Mr Soliman said most universities provided Muslim-only prayer and washrooms for students.

A La Trobe University spokesman said the washrooms were established with the advice of senior Muslim religious leaders.

He said the university also had a Christian chapel with a meeting room and four chaplains from major denominations had offices.

La Trobe University Christian Union vice-president Richard Thamm backed the washrooms.

“It’s part of their religion, they need to wash in a special way before they pray,” he said.

Should Muslims be allowed their own washrooms? Post your comments below.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Mary Papadakis, Sunday Herald Sun, via News.com.au, Jan. 28, 2007, http://www.news.com.au/

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday January 30, 2007.
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