Islamic Interest Society concerned over prayer room move

Todd Oravic, Staff Writer

The Islamic Interest Society (IIS), part of Wilkes University’s Campus Interfaith, has expressed concern following the move of their designated prayer room from the library basement to the Savitz Lounge in the Henry Student Center.


Starting in 2005, the IIS used the library for regularly held prayer. Over the past summer, Ebrahim Brnawi, president of the IIS, met with Wilkes Student Affairs and Global Education, and was told that because many departments on campus would be relocating, the prayer room would be moved.


“They said that Wilkes needs to move the help desk to the prayer room, I think for no reason especially to that place,” Brnawi said. “Someone told Global Education that Muslim students don’t use the room regularly.”


Brnawi stated that Muslim prayer occurs Monday through Friday four times a day, with 45 to 50 people in attendance at noon Friday prayer.


Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Paul Adams said, “They were already using the (Savitz Lounge) for Friday prayers last year. We asked that they use this location until we are able to identify an appropriate new space.”


Brnawi stated that Muslim students are more comfortable in the original prayer room in the library, because they are close to study areas.


“It was promised that the prayer room in the library would be a designated place after renovations,” Brnawi said. “The Savitz Lounge is a public place where students can reserve the room for club activities such as parties, dancing, coffee hour and watching movies. It is not a respectful place to pray at all, and Muslim students do not feel comfortable.”


The IIS has been active on campus for eight years and holds the Eid celebration at the end of the holy month Ramadan. The society has also held viewings of films about Islam which are open to the public, students, and faculty.


As of late, the IIS has sent a request to the Wilkes provost, Dr. C. Reynold Verret. The IIS received an email that the request will be taken care of.


“We really appreciate Wilkes University’s effort and we hope that Wilkes can hear our voice as soon as possible,” Brnawi said. “We just need a respectful place to pray.