Faith groups are ramping up protests against Muslim students praying in Toronto public schools as they vow to make the controversial practice an election issue in Ontario. A demonstration took place Sunday night outside the Toronto District School Board on Yonge St., and another is planned for Sept. 18 at Queen’s Park to demand an end of the prayer service.
The protests stem from a decision to allow Islamic prayer sessions every Friday in the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School, on Overlea Blvd., which have been going on for more than a year. “We plan to keep on protesting until this practice is stopped,” said Ron Banerjee, of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy. “This is a stealth jihad that is taking place at the TDSB and not the violent jihad we had on Sept. 11.”
Banerjee said his group along with the Jewish Defence League and Costas Christian Mission are trying to get political leaders to take a stand on the issue before the Oct. 6 election.
Both Premier Dalton McGuinty and Conservative Leader Tim Hudak have said the issue will be left to the school boards and principals to manage. And Ontario Human Rights commissioner Barbara Hall has said that schools have a duty to accommodate faith needs up to the point of “undue hardship”.
Leonard Baak, president of Education Equality in Ontario, said McGuinty and Hudak “were squirming” when asked about Islamic sectarianism in schools. “Both men reveal a stunning lack of leadership on the issue,” Baak said on Sunday. “It is time for government to give all faiths equal respect and consideration.”