Islam not a must, says college

2012-06-06 00:00

THE As-Salaam Educational Institute in Braemar on the South Coast said yesterday that it has not infringed the religious practices of students living in their dormitories or forced them to accept Islamic practices.

The campus came under fire last week after students from the Coastal KZN Further Education and Training College, who live in dormitories leased from As-Salaam, went on the rampage.

The students said they were protesting because they were forced to read the Qu’ran and follow other Islamic practices. The Mercury reported that students were not allowed to carry their Bibles.

Chairperson of the As-Salaam management committee, Dr Zjunaid Khan, said: “The students are allowed to keep Bibles. We even have a Bible in our library.”

Khan told The Witness yesterday that the issue between the students and institute was never about Islamic practices.

“No Muslim is allowed to force Islamic beliefs on a non-Muslim. In chapter three of the Qu’ran it states that there should be no compulsion. Why would we go against what the Qu’ran says and against the laws of this country?”

He said that the dispute started over a food issue among the students living in the dormitories. “They wanted an additional snack added to their meals, which we gave them.”

He said that the institute implements an Islamic ethos, not Islamic practices.

“Everyone one is expected to wake up at 6 am. We not asking them to pray with us, but they cannot go on sleeping until 10 am.”

He added: “Students wanted more freedom over the dormitories. It’s not acceptable if students leave and enter the dormitories as they please. We have rules like any other campus where parties are not allowed and females and outside visitors are not allowed in the dorms.”

Khan said lectures on the campus had continued as normal. “Only the dormitory facilities are closed until the situation is resolved, which has affected around 60 or so students, but they are still allowed on to the campus to attend lectures.”

The students were evicted last week and were asked to find other accommodation.

During a media briefing on the state of FET colleges in the country in Durban on Monday, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said he was ordering an investigation into the events on the campus.

The ministry has set up a task team to meet parents and the college management.

“I wish to state that as a constitutional democracy and secular state, no student in any public institution can be forced to practise any religion, irrespective of the circumstances that might have warranted the college to enter into the accommodation arrangements with any institution,” Nzimande said.

He said he was deeply concerned about arrangements that were unconstitutional and violated the rights of students.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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