Groups to protest over Muslim prayers in school
Published Monday, July 25, 2011 9:32PM EDT
The Jewish Defence League, the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and the Christian Heritage group, among others, have united in recent weeks to oppose a school's decision to let some 300 Muslim students pray in its cafeteria.
The Valley Park Middle School, at Don Mills Road and Overlea Boulevard in Toronto's east end, has been allowing the prayers for three years but only recently attracted the opposition.
The school started offering services on Friday because Muslim students were skipping classes to attend prayers at a nearby mosque. A local imam leads the prayers at the school.
Premier Dalton McGuinty last week said schools and their communities should be responsible for deciding how to accommodate students' religious beliefs.
McGuinty said school boards should make the call based on each school's individual situation and the community in which it is located.
The Canadian Hindu Advocacy organization claims the TDSB is showing religious favoritism by allowing the prayer services. It has demanded the TDSB take a stand and ensure religious equality in the system.
At a press conference last week Meir Weinstein, of the Jewish Defence League, said they would consider demanding a public inquiry if the board did not end the Muslim prayer sessions.
The school board says that by offering a prayer space the school is meeting an obligation to accommodate students' religious beliefs.
The board says only students who wish to participate attend the prayer service, and that the costs are covered by the community, not public money.
The protest is expected to be held at 5:30 p.m. outside the Toronto District School Board headquarters at 5050 Yonge St.
With files from The Canadian Press