A religious conflict is smoldering at the University of Geneva. Muslim students ask for a room to pray. The university refuses – and refers to the secular law. The students still pray and launch a petition.
“We cannot accept religious practices at the university,” Yves Flückiger, rector of the University of Geneva, told Le Temps daily on Tuesday. This is stipulated by the Geneva constitution and also by the law on secularism. “The University of Geneva guarantees freedom of conscience and religion and strict religious neutrality,” Flückiger explains – according to the Protestant news agency Protestinfo. Therefore, any religious activity in their buildings is prohibited. The Christian pastoral care, which has rented a room at the university, must also adhere to the ban on prayer, Flückiger told the newspaper.
A meditation room without religious practices: that is an option for the rector. “For my part, I’d prefer a rest room,” he says.
Prayer in the stairwell
Apparently, the students are not complying with the ban on prayer. According to Protestinfo, one of them recently complained in the student newspaper “Topo” that Muslim students had to pray in a campus staircase.
petition on the way
As early as 2018, Muslim students launched an online petition to get a prayer room at the university. Around 3000 people signed it. The request was rejected by the university. Now another petition to the university management is apparently on its way – in some cases several associations of Muslim students, as Protestinfo has learned.