Not long ago, something like that would have been unthinkable. But it’s becoming a reality in London, Ontario in Canada.
Mother Teresa Catholic secondary school is turning a second-floor office into an Islamic prayer room — the first high school in the city, private or public, to do so.
Carpet will soon cover the tile flooring, speakers will be installed and prayer mats purchased to provide the school’s Muslim students, estimated at around two dozen, with a quiet and private place to pray.
The idea has been in the works since the end of the last school year after a group of Muslim students lobbied administration to create the space.
“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 prayer room, expected to be completed by the end of September, is located on a busy stretch on the second floor, just metres from the school’s large chapel.
“That was very important to ensure that it was included in the main building, and not tucked away somewhere,” Fernandes said.
Grade 12 student Amir Farhi, 17, was part of the group that led the push for the prayer room.
“We do have quite a bit of Muslims in this school who find it hard to practice their religion,” he said. “Having this prayer room, it’s easy for them to do their Friday prayers.”