Religion: Fighting over the carcass

How sad to see so many foreigners and religions fighting over Muslim prayers being allowed in a Toronto school.

This is a Christian country, and we should be able to celebrate our Christian faith openly, anywhere, and without fear. Yet now, we have a minority-member Director of Education, Chris Spence, who allows prayers for Muslims but not for anybody else.

I can’t help thinking “a pox on all of them.”

Jeff Goodall.

Group protests prayers in school

Toronto Sun

Jenny Yuen: July 25th, 2011

TORONTO – The debate over Muslim prayers in public schools became heated during a protest outside the Toronto District School Board’s headquarters Monday.

Some 50 protesters, clutching signs that read, “No Islam in our schools” and “If I can’t say Christmas, then you can’t say Mohammed,” flocked to the school board’s Yonge St. head office, calling for a stop to Muslim prayers at the public schools.

“This is a violation of so many things,” said Ron Banerjee of Canadian Hindu Advocacy. “There is gender apartheid within the prayers where women are behind the men.”

Speakers from several groups, including the Jewish Defence League Canada and Costa Christian Mission also participated in the protest.

Mariam Hamaoui, and 18-year-old York University religious studies student, said she came down to the school board to thank them for allowing her to pray when she went to elementary and high school.

“Is school not our second home?” said the York University religious studies student. “I think people should be open minded. I don’t see the problem in praying — it helps everybody. I’m surprised everyone’s attacking because Canada’s supposed to be a peaceful place and multicultural.”

Parent Rasha Noor, 40, said she fears for what the imams say during the prayer service.

“The person who leads the prayers — he is not part of the school board so you can’t control what he’s saying,” Noor said. “If you want to include religion in the board, it can’t be just some schools and not the others…They have to stop. They’re making a division between kids.”

Banerjee warned there will be more protests in the coming weeks if TDSB doesn’t take their complaints seriously.

However, TDSB education director Chris Spence confirmed the prayer services that roughly 400 Muslims attend each Friday have been going on for three years at Valley Park Middle School on Overlea Blvd. He cited 90% of the student population is Muslim and it was a safety and instructional thing to initiate the prayer program in the cafeteria after lunchtime.

“Where the mosque was, it was a busy intersection,” he said. “Students were leaving and some weren’t coming back. We’ve had no complaints from inside the school community, complaints came from outside.”

Spence said the board tries to and has previously accommodated other religious requests and faiths in hundreds of schools.

“We are the most diverse school board in the country and we have a duty to provide religious accommodation and that’s what we’re doing,” Spence said. “But accommodation is fluid – it’s not written in stone, so we’re going to continue to have conversations to meet the needs of our students.

See original here.

See “Discrimination against Christians: As others see us” (July 16th, 2011) here.

See also “Toronto School Board: Revolution 101” (April 8th, 2011) here.

See my “Educational Issues” category here

See my “Toronto Africentric Schools Issue” category here.