Anger Over Allowing Muslim Prayer Rooms in Ontario Schools


Maximum flak from right wing Canadian groups

Ontario’s Peel District School Board is now a flashpoint on the issue of Muslim prayers being allowed in school.[/tweetit] It has gone so far that a person tore pages from a Quran. Islamophobic shouting was also heard during a public meeting held in March. The meeting soon plunged into chaos.

Anger Over Allowing Muslim Prayer Rooms in Ontario Schools[/tweetthis]

The controversy started when the Ontario school board serving the Greater Toronto area's multicultural population decided to make changes to the old policy to make it easier on school staff. The decision was to discard sermons written by students for the Friday prayers and instead replace such sermons with six pre-written and approved ones.

The new plan encountered headwind from the start. Devout Muslim students and their parents expressed unhappiness about the change. They complained that it was restrictive, forcing the board back to its old policies. The school was compelled to do so as per Ontario Human Rights Code, as all the school boards located in Ontario province must reasonably accommodate faith requirements of their students.

A few parents along with a number of other groups now allege that permitting Muslim students to offer prayers inside their school grounds is pushing the concept of accommodation too far. A majority of 38 secondary schools under Peel in the District provides prayers for their Muslim students. This is not new, being there for years.

The matter went so forward that Kevin J. Johnston of Freedom Report, a right wing publication, has put forward a $1,000 cash reward if someone presents him with a video where Muslim students were filmed praying. To get the money, the camera person must take recordings of what Johnston termed hate speeches and the students can be easily identified. It is apparent all recordings will be made of underage students if done.

Johnston has earlier termed the school board as “treasonous and cowardous.” He termed the whole matter as going against Canadian values and anti-women as well. He claims the sermons to be given at the school will be full of anti-Christian, anti-infidel and anti-Jewish as well. Every sermon lasts for about 20 minutes.

The Peel District Board, in its statement, has said the debate over whether students following Islam can hold Friday prayer sessions voluntarily on the school grounds is now settled.


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