(Toronto, Canada, July 13, 2011) – The Canadian Council of Imams applauds the statement by Dr. Christopher Spence, Director of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), which affirms the rights of Muslim students to have midday Islamic prayer sessions in their public schools.
Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi, Chairman of the Council of Imams said, “We are extremely pleased that Dr. Spence has come out in support of right of Muslim students to hold noon Friday prayers at public schools. These are the basic human rights and religious freedoms granted to all Canadians – adults and children – under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Numerous people across faith lines have come forward to support the prayer accommodations at the Valley Park Middle School. These are true Canadians who are not blinded by negativity or hate mongering.”
“A true secular democratic society is one that accommodates and respects all cultures and faith practices. The TDSB has provided space for Muslim students to fulfill their religious obligation of Friday prayers, and in no way is this infringing on the rights of any other faith group or affecting curriculum. Attending the prayers is voluntary and the students who attend have parental consent. Freedom of religion also means no one should interfere nor dictate how any faith group offers their prayers. The members of the Canadian Council of Imams unilaterally state that claims and assumptions of indoctrination and extremism at the prayers are absurd, as these are baseless allegations with no hard evidence”, he added.
The Canadian Council of Imams reiterated that Canada is founded on human values of respect, tolerance and fairness. Canada will remain to be a great country as long as we adhere to these great secular, democratic principles.
“We would like to stress accommodating Friday prayers do not impose upon, nor restrict, the rights of other faith groups to make any requests for religious accommodation that they deem appropriate,” said Imam Abdul Hai Patel, Interfaith Relations Director of the Council.
Quel joke. As if any other faith group would ever be granted the same sort of accommodation upon request.