Mother Teresa Catholic secondary school, a high school in London, Ontario, Canada is about to open a Muslim prayer room.
24 Hours Vancouver reports the Catholic secondary school with a student population of about 1,400 has about 25 Muslim students, who lobbied the school beginning last year for a place to pray. The prayer room will be located on the second floor, just steps away from the school’s chapel, and is scheduled to open at the end of the month.
“They’re members of our school community. We want to ensure that all our students feel welcome, that they feel that they belong,” said Principal Ana Paula Fernandes.
The Free Republic reports that Mother Teresa is the first school in Ontario, public or private, to open such a facility. In Canada, baptism is required for enrollment in elementary schools, but secondary schools are open to anyone.
School officials and interested students have been in contact with a local imam, a leader of Islamic worship services, to develop guidelines for the room. Muslims are required to pray toward Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, five times daily but school officials say the room will be primarily used on Fridays.
While the move is sure to be hailed by some as a marker of tolerance, others disagree. The St. Catharine Standard conducted an online poll asking “Should schools provide Muslim students with a place to pray?” At 9:15 pm Eastern, 57 percent of voters said no, 20 percent said “Yes, they have the right,” and 23 percent said “Only if the same is done for other religious students.”
The Muslim prayer room at the Catholic school was converted from an old office.