School apologises after video showing Muslim students praying outside in cold weather sparks outrage
- Footage shows Oldham Academy North pupils conducting Friday prayer outside
- Eight boys seen kneeling on the pavement as school staff appear to watch over
- An investigation has since been launched as video was met with widespread fury
- Academy has seen issued a grovelling apology and installed a new prayer room
A school has issued a grovelling apology after footage showing Muslim students praying outside in the cold weather prompted outrage within the community.
The video showing male pupils at Oldham Academy North conducting their Jummah (Friday) prayers outside provoked a furious reaction on social media.
In the clip, around eight boys can be clearly seen kneeling with their heads bowed on the pavement, while a member of the school’s staff wearing a hi-visibility jacket appears to watch over them.
After completing their prayer, the boys, still wearing their blazers and school shoes, quickly stand up and start picking up their school bags.
The footage has been met with widespread anger, with furious viewers describing the scenes as ‘distressing’ and ‘disgusting’.
Oldham Academy North has since explained that the students were unable to pray inside because of severe flooding that caused serious damage and closed 15 classrooms.
In a statement issued after the clip went viral, the school issued a ‘wholehearted apology’ and confirmed an investigation has been launched.
The video showing male pupils at Oldham Academy North conducting their Jummah (Friday) prayers outside provoked a furious reaction on social media
One former student speaking to The Oldham Times said the boys were praying during their lunch break last Friday in a classroom when a member of staff ‘told them to leave’.
The pupils were then left with no other option but to conduct their prayers in the cold because the school had not offered a viable prayer room.
Another report shared by Asian Image appears to corroborate this account, where a pupil claiming to be involved in the incident said an ‘angry’ teacher told the group they were not allowed to pray in the room they were in.
The student explained: ‘We were praying Jummah and a teacher came in and told us we aren’t allowed to pray in that room and she slammed the door and seemed angry.
‘We have had a prayer room for a long time, teachers would allow us to go there for our prayers.
In the clip, around eight boys can be clearly seen kneeling on the pavement while a member of the school’s staff wearing a hi-visibility jacket appears to watch over them
Muslim leaders in the community have since promised to work more closely with the school to prevent any similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Oldham Council Leader, Arooj Shah, said: ‘When we were made aware of the issues raised at the Oldham Academy North, we acted quickly to speak with the school to understand what had happened.
‘Having spoken with the school leaders I am glad they have apologised to those who were affected and will be writing to parents to explain.
‘Oldham is a proud and diverse borough and I know that the Oldham Academy North sees this as a strength for the school.
‘We will continue conversations with the school around this matter to investigate the situation properly.’
Oldham Mosques Council Development Officer, Mufti Helal Mahmood, said: ‘We will be working closely with Oldham Academy North to ensure incidents like this can be avoided in the future.
‘We have a strong history in Oldham of working together across different communities and faiths.
‘We must not let ourselves be divided when issues arise but work through them in partnership to achieve peaceful resolutions.’
An academy spokesperson said in a later statement: ‘Earlier this week photos on social media began to circulate of students at The Oldham Academy North praying outside.
‘We would like to offer a sincere apology. We are proud of our diversity and have never, and would never, stop students from praying or ask them to pray outside.
‘While we have always sought to provide appropriate prayer facilities at the academy, we are working with Oldham Interfaith Forum and Oldham Council to address the concern this issue has caused.
‘At The Oldham Academy North, we consider our diversity our greatest strength. We will always do everything in our power to ensure our students, staff and our communities are given the very best opportunities in life.’