CAIR-CAN seeks probe of McGill ‘harassment’

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today called for an investigation of reports that Muslim students at Montreal’s McGill University are being singled out for harassment by campus security guards. The reports of harassment follow the eviction of the Muslim students from their prayer space in the university’s Peterson Hall last week. Students said security guards entered the prayer room, asked everyone to vacate the area and changed the locks on the doors. Now, the Muslim students are reporting that security guards in Peterson Hall are continuing to harass them. In one report, the students say security personnel would not permit them inside the building until they displayed their student cards. The students said the guards then followed them throughout the building until they left.

Another Muslim student reported that a guard told him he could only have two minutes to use the washroom and, when the time had elapsed, the guard started clapping and yelling for the student to leave the bathroom. According to a similar report, a guard began banging on a bathroom stall door and asked why the student was taking him so long and if he “was praying in there.” (Islam forbids Muslims to pray in a washroom.) Another student said a guard told her he was just doing as instructed after he told her she could not use the washroom. “Not only were the Muslim students denied a prayer space, which over 20 universities in Canada manage to provide as either a multi-faith prayer area or a designated prayer room, but now they are reportedly being harassed when they try to use the bathrooms,” said Halima Mautbur, CAIR-CAN’s human rights coordinator. Ms. Mautbur demanded that McGill University comply with federal and provincial human rights codes that require religious needs to be accommodated.

“It is disgraceful that Muslim students at McGill are being singled out and harassed by security guards in this demeaning manner,” she added. “We call on McGill University to halt this treatment and offer an apology to its Muslim students.”

CAIR news release, 7 June 2005