Muslims pray in Nazareth
Muslims pray in Nazareth, with the Church of the Anunciation in the background. Illustrative. Photo by AP
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Following a request from a student, Israel's Bar-Ilan University is opening a prayer room for Muslims, Israeli media has reported.

The university's student union was approached by geography student Abed Sharkiya, who wanted a place to pray on the university's campus in the city of Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.

He told the union that Muslim students feel uncomfortable praying in public areas on the campus, where they are often the subjects of stares and racist slurs, according to Ynet.

Abed Sharkiya, a geography student, is the respresentative of the Arab sector of the union. He said he approached the university rabbi for his approval.

"The rabbi understood us right away and said that we also deserve our own place. I'm happy that after three years of studying here, we will be able to pray in a respectable fashion," Ynet cited him as saying.  

Sharkiya said that there are some 500 Muslim students at the university, which describes itself as dedicated to the pursuit of academic excellence along with Jewish heritage study, who need a place for their daily prayers. He told the union they are often forced to use classrooms, or to pray outside on the grass at the campus.

Following talks with the union, the University administration agreed to make a room available for the students at their traditional prayer times. Devout Muslims pray five times a day.

"I welcome the decision of the university to allow every student to maintain his religious lifestyle on campus according to his needs,” the head of the university's student union, Matan Bar Noy, was quoted as saying. “Respect for all religions and freedom of worship is critical in any country, and certainly in Israel."