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RELIGION

Muslim students denied high school prayer slot

High school student Ibrahim El Kadi asked if he could pray while at school. “No,” said his principal.

He asked for a quiet prayer area “for all religions” and was quoted the Education Ministry’s official line.

“No one has the legal right to religious practice during working hours, neither employees nor students.”

The denial compelled El Kadi and some 40 other students in “multicultural” Ulsrud High School to protest in mock prayer outside the school’s library. Now they pray in the bitter cold of a nearby parking lot.

The principal, for his part, said he had received complaints from students who felt “excluded” by the prayer. So, he told the Muslim students to leave and stop praying, although recess provided just enough time for prayer.

City schools committee councillor, Torger Ødegaard, told broadcaster NRK that quiet rooms for prayer are not a good idea.

“School is not a religious institution. School is a knowledge institution,” Ødegaard told NRK.

Meanwhile, El Kadi and the Oslo school’s Muslim students said they won’t relent until they have a prayer space.

“We’ll pray out here even if it snows,” said fellow student protester Aslihan Bozkurt.

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RELIGION

Bible students forced to speak in tongues: report

Dozens of students at the Oslo International Bible College have claimed they were exposed by staff members to threats, harassment and accusations of witchcraft.

Bible students forced to speak in tongues: report
File photo: Solveig Vikene/Scanpix

Some 70 students at the college outlined their grievances in a letter to the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT), student newspaper Universitas reports.

In the letter, the students accuse the school of widespread harassment, which included forcing them to speak in tongues.

According to the letter, signed by more half the students at the English-language school, staff also charged them with “carrying the devil’s spirit and practising witchcraft”.

Founded in 2010 by Finn Henrik Larsen – a pastor with the Pentecostal Regnbuen (Rainbow) church – the college offers two-year courses with the aim of ”training men and women to become leaders of churches, organizations and in society.”

According to Larsen, the students’ complaints came as a major surprise to staff at the college.  

“I’m trying to figure out why nobody said anything about the issues they are dissatisfied with,” he told Universitas.

“We were not made aware of the contents of the letter until several months after it was sent. What’s more, when you look at some of the complaints it’s impossible that 70 students experienced all these things,” he said.

NOKUT has already met with the management at the college to discuss the letter and is now awaiting the results of a detailed inspection by the Ministry of Education before deciding how to proceed.

Lars Vassbotten, a divisional director at the ministry, said his department had given the college until September 1st to present a thorough explanation.

He also noted that it was unusual for the ministry to make such a request.

“Only on a couple of occasions has the department seen the need to open a broader inspection beyond the annual reports,”  said Vassbotten.

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