Several students at United Township High School in East Moline protested on Thursday morning, claiming that a Muslim student’s request to pray during school made a teacher uncomfortable.
UT superintendent Jay Morrow said later the accusation was false.
“I never said that United Township denied me the right to pray. I said REPETITIVELY over and over that I am protesting because my teacher at United Township told me that me going downstairs to pray makes him uncomfortable,” UTHS senior Omnia Salih posted Thursday on Facebook, in response to Morrow’s statement.
“The rumor going around that I said ‘they denied my right to pray’ is completely false. So, as a school, for you to put out this statement and use a rumor instead of my ACTUAL words and what I told the administration what happened in that class is disgusting and could come off as defamation. This is concealing at its finest. I will not stand for this and have students questioning my credibility. Fix this and do better.”
The school principal, Matt Wright, was going to interview students in Omnia’s class who heard her request, but hadn’t done so Thursday, she said.
Morrow issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“This morning, there were students who held a peaceful protest at United Township High School. The protest began in the parking lot and students walked around the exterior of the campus. United Township supports the rights of students to protest. We provided as safe of an environment as possible while trying to maintain the learning environment of all students.
“This protest was in response to a rumor of a student who was allegedly denied the opportunity to pray. Our investigation has found the accusation to be false. United Township is fully supportive of the teacher who is wrongly accused and unfairly maligned on social media.
“Prior to this incident, UTHS, in coordination with our Islamic student organization, developed a reflection Room. In this room, students of any faith can honor their religion. In conversation with our Islamic student group. it was agreed that prayer times would be allowed. The teacher allowed the student to exercise this opportunity.
“United Township embraces our cultural and religious diversity. This is demonstrated by our formally organized Islamic student group, as well as our long-standing Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization, and our P7 organization for practicing Christian students.”