The University of Iowa is reconfiguring two former offices in its Iowa Memorial Union to be used as full-time prayer spaces, primarily for the school's Muslim faculty, staff, and students. For Muslims, prayer is a ritual performed five times daily.
On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Saad Ansari, president of the University of Iowa Muslim Student Association, to discuss the need for a space for private prayer on campus.
"Having this space is a tremendous step for Muslims, just to fulfill their basic responsibilities as a Muslim," Ansari says.
"Since this is such a very personal and deep thing, a lot of us don't feel comfortable in a public space. People are going behind us, past us [...] and then the bigger concern, especially in this time where there's a lot of rhetoric from political candidates with Islamaphobic thoughts, is that we don't feel safe. When we're on the ground and praying, someone could come behind us and anything could happen. It can be kind of scary."
Also on this news buzz edition of the show, Ben Kieffer talks with Joyce Russell about some new items in the Iowa legislature, an Iowa City couple whose scientific research has led the school district to change their high school start times, Sarah Boden who reported this week about the ongoing Bakken pipeline debate, Grant Rodgers about Simpson College's decision to hire a shooting club coach, Andrew Logue who gives an update on Des Moines hosting a NCAA tourney in March, and Shuang Chen about ushering in the Chinese New Year.