The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) expresses its concern with the ongoing discourse surrounding the issue of segregation. The discussion has been worryingly hijacked by Islamophobes who present an unbalanced narrative, totally disconnected from the reality.
FOSIS President Omar Ali said today, “The provision of equal separate seating for members of opposite genders by some religious societies on campuses is really not any cause for concern. For many at a religious event, to sit with members of one’s own gender is a matter that provides comfort – something not uncommon in religious institutions such as churches, synagogues and mosques across the country. Furthermore, separate provisions for different genders is widespread and prevalent for non-religious purposes in many public institutions such as hospitals, single-sex schools, university colleges, university social societies etc. This isn’t something which discriminates or benefits either gender over the other and is something which democratically elected societies may or may or may not facilitate depending on their membership. However, importantly this isn’t something that is forced by Islamic Societies but rather something which happens out of choice through self-organisation.”
Ibrahim Ali, FOSIS Vice President of Student Affairs added, “Universities should be places where people of different political, religious, social and artistic inclinations have the opportunity to express themselves in confidence and not a place where freedom of expression and self discovery is limited or banned. What has been most concerning is that a number of individuals and organisations, which have a track record of Islamophobia, have sought to monopolise this topic through drawing baseless apartheid parallels, furthering the demonisation of Islamic Societies and of Muslim students.”
FOSIS President Omar Ali concluded, “Our current and only guidance to Islamic societies is to provide spaces that will bring comfort to the majority of their membership, in line with the tenants of the Islamic faith.”
1. FOSIS (est. 1963) is the umbrella organisation of student groups in colleges and universities throughout the UK and Ireland, representing the interests of over 115,000 Muslim students.