UCT Ramadan


UCT professor apologises for “appalling” response to a Ramadan query

The students who took time off to attend Rocking The Daisies never got this treatment, though.

UCT Ramadan


A Muslim student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has received an apology from her professor, after his completely tone-deaf response to a question about breaking fast during Ramadan.

Nuhaa Soeker enquired with Prof. John Higgins about the possibility of being able to have a short break from an exam scheduled to take place from 17:00 – 19:00. UCT students never usually seem to struggle when getting concessions.

Ramadan observance and university exams

Of course, when observing Ramadan, Muslims do not eat during daylight hours. Soeker wanted to know if she and other observing students would be allowed to leave the exam hall for a snack, before coming back in to complete their tests.

Here’s what Higgins replied with:

The student felt that the email was insensitive and sarcastic, sharing it with her followers on social media. She called his assumptions “rude and distasteful” in a follow-up tweet.

It soon caught the attention of the UCT hierarchy, who issued a statement on behalf of the professor 48 hours later.

UCT prof expresses his “sincerest apologies”

In his apology, Higgins accepts that his response was “appallingly ill-considered”. He offered an unreserved apology for the email, expressing his shame over the whole incident:

“I am writing to express an unreserved apology for the offence given by an email message I sent to a student yesterday in response to a legitimate query regarding examination protocols during Ramadan.”

“I see now that my response was appallingly ill-considered and hurtful, and has caused offense to the student in question, as well as to the broader UCT community and beyond. I am deeply ashamed at the lapse in judgement present in my communication, and the hurt it has caused, and hope that my sincere apology can be accepted.”

TimesLive report that the student appreciated the apology, but also says the incident highlights the larger issue of ignorance towards Muslim and minority students.

Perhaps if Soeker said she was going to the Rocking The Daisies music festival, her faculty would’ve been more understanding?