Tonight there will be a meeting of the Union and a Motion will go down in flames. On Monday, Ozzy Amir launched a Facebook in opposition to motion 6.3, ‘Student Equality’. It is a campaign that looks as though it will be very successful. They’ve certainly done a very good job at glossing over the finer points of the motion and exploiting the Left-wing leanings of the student body.
Aamna Mohdin who is also heading up the campaign wrote on Tuesday that ‘It’s vital we mobilise and vote NO to Motion 6.3’ because the motion ‘calls for the union to not divert resources for campaigning on behalf of any religious group and it also repeals all policies that advocate segregation on grounds of religion.’
She is not wrong. Motion 6.3 points out that the previous motion permitting Muslim-only prayer rooms that was passed at Student Council late last year is in clear contravention of Article of Association B of The Companies Act 2006, which states that: ‘The Union will seek at all times to:(i) ensure that the diversity of its Membership is recognised and that equal access is available to all Members of whatever origin or orientation; (ii) pursue its aims and objectives independent of any political party or religious group; and (iii) pursue equal opportunities within the law to facilitate participation of groups discriminated against by society.’
The Motion for Muslim prayer rooms states that the Union resolves to ‘actively campaign to the University and other relevant bodies on behalf of the Muslim students, working with the Islamic Society, to establish, support and help maintain a Muslim prayer room.’
Motion 6.3 should not be necessary. Existing Union policy on this issue is admirably straightforward: the Union may not campaign on behalf of any one particular religious or political group, and the Motion for Muslim Prayer Rooms is in violation of that policy.
However, the supporters of the ‘no’ campaign are treating this as an emotional issue. If they wish to debate this as though there is no existing policy – for they have refused to discuss this with me on those grounds – then let us look at the implications of what a no vote would mean to students at the University.
It means that Muslim students will benefit from Union funds that should be allocated as equally as possible to members of the Union. It places the needs of Muslim students above the needs of those of other faiths or none. And it grants special privilege to the Islamic Society on behalf of those students, when not all muslim students are members of that society, and there are other Union-recognised Muslim societies at Queen Mary such as QM AMSA.
It is argued in Motion 6.3 that there are many places where Muslim students can pray. There are multi-faith rooms around campus and St. Benet’s chapel – so often empty – is multi-faith and open to anyone who wishes to use it. For those students who wish to pray in a Muslim-only environment there is a Muslim community centre on Mile End Road, the East London Mosque just up the road, and there is nothing to stop the Islamic Society booking rooms for the purposes of prayer.
Muslim prayer rooms are not only unnecessary, they are divisive. Even if it were the case that the current facilities are insufficient, expansion of multi-faith prayer rooms would continue the great tradition of cross-faith integration as opposed to rooms which exclude people on the grounds of their religion.
Motion 6.3 reaffirms the policies of the Union in favour of greater integration between faith communities, ensures that all students are equally represented by their Union and it reaffirms existing Union policy which was created to that end.
It is ironic that a no-brainer Motion will likely fail because emotionally-manipulative propaganda has stopped people using their brains. If you are free this evening please think about attending the meeting and voting yes to Motion 6.3.