“Some groups say Muslims were monopolizing space,” from the Flint Journal, with thanks to EPG:
FLINT – A room for peaceful reflection and prayer at the University of Michigan-Flint has become anything but.
Instead, Room 386 at the University Center – known as the Meditation Room – is at the heart of a months-long religious dispute between Muslim and non-Muslim students.
The non-Muslims began complaining in November that Muslim students were monopolizing the room and filling the tiny space with religious paraphernalia and anti-Israel literature.
The Muslim students countered that they were being unfairly targeted and appealed to the university for religious tolerance.
“I do think that the current political climate does contribute to Islamophobia,” said Bishr Aldabagh, a former UM-Flint Student Government Council president and student commencement speaker.
“The room serves the needs of students from different religions, but I do think that the reaction would have been different if the room was used predominantly by Christians or Jews.”
UM-Flint student Zea Miller, 22 of Flint asked the university, in a written petition, to allow a more balanced use of the room, urging it to “whitewash” the walls and remove all religious items – a move that he said caused him to be stalked and harassed.
The university investigated Miller’s claims about being harassed and said they were unfounded.
“There are people who feel offended and intimidated being in the Meditation Room or within the presence of artifacts representative of beliefs not their own,” Miller said in his petition.
Miller said he was acting on his own, but others feel the same. Miller, a staff member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, doesn’t belong to any of UM-Flint’s four student religious organizations.
The walls of the room, about the size of a storage room, once held posters, Muslim Student Association awards and framed pictures. Prayer rugs and other books also were stored in the room. Muslim students use the space to perform religious practices, such as praying five times a day, as required by their faith.
“I took it upon myself to file the petition; I did this on behalf of others who were afraid to,” Miller said. “It was not bigoted. I would have done this against any group who usurped the room. Now, at every move I’m being accused of anti-Muslim behavior. I am not anti-Muslim.”
Join the club, Zea. I can tell you from long experience that anyone who speaks out about anything Muslims have said and done will swiftly be accused of being “anti-Muslim.”