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Prominence given to the Islamic faith may be dropped.
Even as construction of the area on the first floor of the library continues, the final format is far from determined.
The Dunedin City Council has received mixed feedback since it announced plans to create an interfaith or interdenominational prayer room and separate Muslim space, and council staff have signalled they are open to changing the concept.
Community services general manager Simon Pickford said two rooms were being set up as a quiet, reflective space, but the detail was always going to come later.
The aim was to create an inclusive, interfaith space that met the needs of an increasingly diverse community.
His comments — not quite the same as the council’s initial publicity, which proposed a Muslim room featuring a curtain that could be drawn to separate men from women — followed a member of the public suggesting an alternative concept at a Dunedin City Council meeting yesterday.
Paul Gourlie suggested having an interfaith room and another room where women could meet separately.
He said the council initiative was laudable but he was not comfortable about drawing attention to one particular faith group.
Mr Gourlie is the Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group chairman and a Muslim, but said he was speaking as an individual or as a representative of the AoNZ Peace Embassy.
He understood the prayer area was partly a result of the Christchurch mosque shootings last year and recognition of the need to foster an inclusive society.
He thought the idea was well intended but was not sure the original concept achieved the aim of being inclusive.
Mr Gourlie told the Otago Daily Times that creating a separate space for Muslims could be counterproductive.
"By making a separate place, you may give strength to those people who are looking to find an issue."
However, the willingness to put forward the proposal showed maturity, he said.
Mr Pickford confirmed the initial plans were not final and the concept promoted by Mr Gourlie would be given serious consideration.
The idea of a prayer room came out of a visit by council staff to Dunedin’s Al Huda mosque last year.
Mr Pickford said he was aware Muslim pupils studying at the library had to improvise to carry out their afternoon prayers, sometimes using the bathrooms.
Dialogue would continue about creating an inclusive, quiet space for reflection, he said.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand yesterday, library services manager Bernie Hawke referred to the original vision.
There had been a range of feedback and the council was open to modifying the proposal, he said. Some people were not comfortable with the creation of a religious space in a public building. But New Zealand had become more diverse and libraries were community centres.
The project is set to cost just over $15,000.