The Human Rights Office in Washington D.C. is holding an investigation to determine whether the Catholic University of America violated Muslim students human rights by not allowing them to create a Muslim student group and failing to offer prayer rooms without Christian symbols.
John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, supports the claim made by the human-rights commission. He has filed complaints of sex discrimination against the university for eliminating coed dorms.
Banzhaf said some of the Muslim students were offended because they had to hold meetings in the school's chapels and "at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus – the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.”
The complaint received by the Office of Human Rights was 60 pages long. A spokesperson for the office told Fox News the investigation could last as long as six months.
The complaint alleged that Muslim students “must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”
“It shouldn’t be too difficult somewhere on the campus for the university to set aside a small room where Muslims can pray without having to stare up and be looked down upon by a cross of Jesus,” Banzhaf told Fox News.
John Garvey, university president, recognized that the school doesn't have prayer rooms exclusively for Muslim students.
“We make classrooms available, or our chapels are places where they can pray,” he said in a 2010 interview with National Public Radio. “We don’t offer Halal meat, although there are always meals that conform to Halal regulations, that allow students to do what they want.”
Garvey went on to say, “It’s just not something that we view as an activity that we want to sponsor because we’re a Catholic institution rather than Muslim."
Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, was surprised by the allegations.
“This attorney is really turning civil rights on its head,” Reilly said. “He’s using the law for his own discrimination against the Catholic institution and essentially saying Catholic University cannot operate according to Catholic principles.”