Protest at Mississauga City Hall

I just took this photo of a group of protesters winding their way around Celebration Square (which sits in front of city hall.). I couldn’t stop long but I estimate there were between two and three dozen protesters at most.

Protesters at Mississauga City Hall, March 11, 2017

Protesters at Mississauga City Hall (Photo: Derek Gray)

I can only assume this is the continuation of opposition to the Peel District School Board’s accommodation of supervised student prayer (which we can probably say with some confidence would not be garnering this scale of reaction were the prayers in question not of the Islamic variety.)

Curious to know if by ‘public schools’ they include the Catholic school system… why have they not protested before now?

UPDATE: The Mississauga News has now reported on the protest. The group swelled to around 200 people who walked to the school board headquarters. It was organized by “Canada First.”

UDPATE #2: I’ve posted more information on the people behind the protest.

67 thoughts on “Protest at Mississauga City Hall

  1. I agree that prayers of any sort should not be allowed in public schools. But I don’t understand how you can possibly confuse this protest with prayers in Catholic schools? Catholic schools are not just Catholic In name but also in deeds. I can understand if you have concern with publicly funded Catholic schools (as do I) but the issue is prayer in public schools not Catholic schools.

    • I don’t think I’m confusing the two – I’m just curious if they are also interested in that issue as well. My guess is that it’s not on their radar.

      • You are confused my friend,
        This is for public school only, where they are organizing friday parayer in school timings and jeopardizing all acedemic
        Curriculum

    • Also, I’m just reporting it, not agreeing with them necessarily. I don’t think I have an issue with students borrowing a room during school breaks to pray or whatever other safe activity.
      I think they are wasting their time, personally.

  2. If it’s the same group that protested at the actual board meetings, it’s pretty certain they don’t have a problem with Catholic schools, or with religious practices in schools for that matter… just with Islam.

    Could be the same group masquerading as a “secular” group, or it could be another group. Either way, they clearly don’t understand what secularism is about.

    • Agreed.

    • Yes, we are not against any religion, we want good and quality education in public school, we don’t want any religious practice ongoing during study hours, public tax payer school previllage only one religion today, tomorrow another 5 religion will ask for that , and what about education?? And kids future
      Bcoz you are from Catholic school, its hard for you to understand..lets wait for 2-3 year i will ask your opinion

      • Don’t insult our intelligence. This has nothing to do about “quality education”. This is all about picking on a minority religion.

        Students have free time during school hours. That’s just a fact. However students use that free time is up to them. That’s why it’s called “free time”. They can use it to check their Facebook in the library, fuck around by the bleachers, or… they can pray. Whatever they choose to do, so long as it doesn’t disrupt the school or endanger anyone, they can do whatever they please. It’s a free country, students are citizens, and schools aren’t prisons.

        Nobody’s protesting the kids playing Candy Crush in their free time, or talking about who would win in Spiderman vs Wolverine or Katy Perry vs Taylor Swift, or playing frisbee on the grass, or even just sleeping on a desk. And for decades, nobody protested Christian kids gathering to pray or study the Bible on their own time. Now, suddenly, Muslims want the same right, and these idiots show up out of nowhere like this discussion has never been had before. It has; they just haven’t been involved because their only interest is in sticking it to Muslims… they don’t really care about quality education, or about the religious rights of students, or anything else… they just hate Muslims.

        • Hi, I understand what you’re saying, but you don’t understand what is happening because your children aren’t in Peel. We’re not talking about what kids are doing during their spare time. We’re talking about kids leaving class for 20 minutes at a time during class, disrupting the entire class. We’re talking about kids getting down on their hands and knees in class, praying DURING class. We’re talking about having a special Muslim prayer room (with supervision) in a school board that is now telling us they can’t afford to have French and Music classes because they don’t have enough money! And all of these things are a huge problem.

          • There is no need to flood the site with almost a dozen comments. Just make all your points in a single comment. Like this:

            > We’re not talking about what kids are doing during their spare time. We’re talking about kids leaving class for 20 minutes at a time during class, disrupting the entire class. We’re talking about kids getting down on their hands and knees in class, praying DURING class.

            “We” are not talking about any of that shit at all, because it’s not true. It’s not what’s really happening. If you *you* want to babble on about your feverish paranoid delusions about Muslims praying in classes, go right ahead. But I prefer to stay focused on reality.

            > We’re talking about having a special Muslim prayer room (with supervision) in a school board that is now telling us they can’t afford to have French and Music classes because they don’t have enough money!

            That’s because a room doesn’t cost any money when it already exists and is just sitting there unused for a period, and neither does a teacher volunteering the time they’re already being paid for.

            > You seem like an extreme leftist guy so let me tell you that almost all the protesters were not white.

            So what? I don’t get what being “leftist”, or the colour of the protesters, has to do with anything.

            For the record, you’re not telling me anything I didn’t know – even if I wasn’t aware beforehand that the group was being organized by a Hindu advocacy group, I’m not blind: I can see in the fucking pictures that not everyone was white.

            But so what? Why is the colour of the protesters such an important issue for you? Race seems to matter to you, which seems suspicious.

            > Religion belongs at home, not at school.

            Religion does not “belong at home”, and it is certainly no place for a secular government to tell people where, when, and how they should practice their religion.

            This is a free country. People can practice their religion whenever they want, however they want, wherever they want, so long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights, and no one really gives a fuck whether you like it or not. Students praying in school – not disrupting classes or other students – does not interfere with anyone else’s rights.

            > If you had a child in a Peel region school you’d know that classes are being disrupted by students praying in class, and leaving in the middle of class for large amounts of time. Not only is it disruptive for all of the students in class….

            If you’re actually not lying, and there really is a school where prayers are being conducted in class, disrupting lessons or taking substantial amounts of lesson time away from the praying students, then what you *should* be doing is reporting it to the principals of the schools where it’s happening. Not ranting about it on an atheist blog.

            Or if you prefer, give me the name of the school where it’s happening, and *I* will chase this issue down and fix it. Ranting vaguely won’t help anyone. You seriously want this issue solved? Then give me the name of the school.

            But frankly, I think you’re a liar. I think you don’t have any evidence of what you say is happening. Prove me wrong: give me the name of the school where Muslim students are praying in the middle of classes, and disrupting other students.

            > … how are the Muslims supposed to learn if they’re not even in class for minutes at a time during the day??

            They can ask teachers for help making up what they missed if they need to, same as they could do if they missed “minutes of class” because they were late or sick. Shock of shocks, missing a dozen or so minutes of a single class once a week is not the end of the world.

            > My children are saying that they do it DURING class time. Several schools have supervised private Muslim prayer rooms.

            Either your children are liars, or you are. Give me the name of the school where this prayer during class time is happening.

            > We live in a Christian majority country (still). All countries have their own holiday period, this is ours. Bob, if you don’t like your heritage, find a nicer more non-Christian place to live.

            You realize that you’re saying this on an *ATHEIST* website, right? Jackass.

            > Indi, there is segregation in Mississauga. Besides dropping class to attend a mosque or pray, you probably don’t even know there are several schools completely dedicated to Muslims in Mississauga (and the GTA) called “Al Huda School”. Is there any greater segregation? They are private but only cost $400 for the year per child (funded by Canada or Middle East?). Mr Social Justice Warrior, you don’t live here.

            Once again, if you’re not lying, give me the name of the school where this is happening. I will fix it. Your ranting here will not. Give me the name of the school if you’re not lying and actually care about the issue.

            As for the fact that private schools exist… what the actual fuck do you expect the PDSB or anyone else to do about that?

            (And incidentally, not that it’s relevant, but up until a few years ago I *did* live there, for many years. I lived in two different addresses, both a stone’s throw away from Square One (one west, one south) and in fact used to cut through the Marilyn Monroe towers lot while they were under construction to get to work at Robert Speck… where I worked for the Peel District board. So… yeah.)

          • One observation and one question.
            1). Could the controversy of Islamic prayer in our public schools be due to the fact (?) That this may be our first encounter with prayer space given to a religious group? Assuming this is true, perhaps this is our first real test of religious freedom in our public schools.
            2). A genuine question that will likely seen controversial: Is the ideology if Islam compatible with our western democracy? Are we doomed to conflict or is there indeed a way where Islam can coexist in Canada. I specifically mention Canada because I think there is evidence that Islam is on a crash course with our Southern and European neighbours.

          • I find it ironic that the guy spamming the board with long draw out replies filled with profanity accuses me of replying too much. Too funny.

            Yes it is happening, I doubt a self hating white like yourself even has kids, let alone lives in Peel region. Keep on reading what the media writes, it must be true! /sarcasm

            Yes having a dedicated room is a problem because public schools are meant to be SECULAR. We want equality in our schools, which means each religion doesn’t get prayer rooms. Years ago we removed the Lord’s Prayer from schools because we wanted to be secular, it doesn’t mean we later inject Islam in it’s place years later.

            Yes it’s a problem because the Peel region is threatening to cancel French and Music classes because of a lack of money, yet they have supervised prayer rooms??? So you would rather have a prayer room than music or French class? Seriously? Since you’re involved with the Peel board, you know it’s a problem, so why are you ignoring that?

            If you knew it was organized by a Hindu group, why did you say it was organized by “Canada First”, a “right-wing, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group. You could have told the other poster no, it was actually organized by someone else. You don’t want the truth, you’re too busy trying to say that everyone who doesn’t want Islam in their schools is racist.

            The color of the protester matters because you’re calling everyone on the board racist, jerk off.

            I’d tell you the school but I’ve already done all I can do, I’ve been told to refer to the FAQ on “religious accommodation”. I doubt you have any interest or power in “fixing the problem”.

            Religion at school is fine if it’s during lunch or on your own time, but not during class time. If we can’t agree on that, there’s really no point in talking at all.

          • Hi Jason/Cody (why the two names?)

            Your concerns sound reasonable on the surface; I realize with all the commentary scattered across 2 or 3 postings it’s hard to see what exactly we’ve already touched on. (and Indi’s replies seem longer because he always quotes the often equally long comments that he’s replying to, for clarity. but if you set that aside (you sound equally harsh to me btw…), the points are clear. But you seem to be arguing about things that do rest on what is factually true or not. I too have children in the PDSB and know teachers and principals from PDSB personally. When I ask respectfully-worded questions to my local Trustee, she replies with equal respect.

            You are wrong if you think we won’t follow up on prayer happening in the class itself in front of the other students. We just have no evidence that such is occurring. Do you? If it’s a matter of not wanting to post the school name publicly, then use the Contact form (or ask me to e-mail you directly) to send us the name. Without that we just have no credible reason to believe you. If you have the evidence then I will be the first to acknowledge that you were correct in this regard.

            The PDSB Key Facts sheet says it fairly clearly – but I’m not sure why you still believe the issue is equivalent to the removal of the Lord’s Prayer. Just saying “religion” and “school” in the same sentence doesn’t make the situations the same. They’re fundamentally different (LP = Lord’s Prayer issue, JP = Friday Jummah Prayer issue):

            LP: All students exposed to prayer regardless of beliefs; JP: Only students who feel their faith requires Friday prayer go off to a separate place. (pending your proof to the contrary)
            LP: School system endorsing a single religion; JP: Any religion can request accommodation
            LP: School board’s decision; JP: School board must legally accommodate, no choice. The protests are entirely misdirected.

            I understand you don’t want either LP nor JP, but that doesn’t make the issues the same, nor does it mean the same power to change JP resides in the PDSB. Which of my bullets above do you feel is factually incorrect? If you want to protest religious accommodation, consider doing it on Parliament Hill. Please tell me you don’t think tearing out pages of the Quran at board meetings is the more effective course of action.

            What is this financial burden you are talking about? What “prayer rooms”? There is no evidence of cost. There are no rooms being built or outfitted for sole use by prayer groups. Clarify that or we have to consider it misdirection on your part. You simply are not being honest if you claim that the cost of hiring FULL TIME french teachers and Music teachers and buying and maintaining musical instruments is in anywhere near the same realm of a teacher already hired for the full day to sit in for 20 minutes once a week (voluntarily by the way). Tell me you are seriously trying to insult our intelligence by equating 20 minutes a week to two full-time days. I’m being as civil as I can manage, but that is very offensive to me and the readers.

            I would like to avoid anyone calling you a liar if that isn’t the case – so please consider telling us the school name where you say there are in-class prayers happening, or tell us you misspoke. If you can’t remove Jummah prayer entirely from your child’s school, wouldn’t you at least like to remove it directly from their classroom as you claim? I don’t endorse in-class prayer.

            Accommodation is not endorsement.

          • > I find it ironic that the guy spamming the board with long draw out replies filled with profanity accuses me of replying too much. Too funny.

            I didn’t “accuse you of replying too much”. I *asked* you to combined your many short replies into one long reply. You can include just as much response in that one reply, without drowning out the replies made by others.

            As for me, I am giving long replies because I am replying to multiple people in single comments, rather making one line comments to almost a dozen people.

            Besides, you are lying and I am debunking lies, and it *always* takes more words to debunk a lie than to make one.

            > Yes having a dedicated room is a problem because public schools are meant to be SECULAR. We want equality in our schools, which means each religion doesn’t get prayer rooms. Years ago we removed the Lord’s Prayer from schools because we wanted to be secular, it doesn’t mean we later inject Islam in it’s place years later.

            You don’t seem to understand what secular means. Secular means that the *SCHOOL* and its officials (ie, the teachers), can’t push >>>OR INHIBIT< << religion while on the job. Now there are two important things to understand there. First, only the *school officials* can't take part in or run religious rituals while on the job. There is nothing stopping the students from doing it. It's the same idea as state secularism: the government and its officials can't take part in or run religious rituals while on the job... but there's nothing stopping the citizens from doing it. Second, secularism requires not only not *pushing* religions... it also requires not *inhibiting* religions. A secular school *cannot* force students to take part in prayer... such as what was happening with the Lord's Prayer. And a secular school *cannot* *interfere* with students who want to pray. Those Muslims that, according to their religion, *need* to pray on Fridays; the school *cannot* prevent them from doing so. So either the school lets them leave the school to go pray in a mosque... which is dangerous and cuts in to a lot of class time... or they give them a few minutse and a bit of unused space for them to do their prayers at school. If you actually cared about the kids as much you pretend to, you'd have to agree the second option is better. Your idea that "equality" means that no religions can get a prayer room is misguided. That is not "equality", that is suppressing religion in favour of non-religion (or at least suppressing religions that need prayer rooms in favour of anything that doesn't... which is probably what's *really* going on here, because pretty much only Islam really needs a prayer room). That is a fundamental misunderstanding of how equality works. True equality isn't "treating everyone the same", because if you did that you would actually be creating massive *in*equality. For example, saying "everyone has to use the stairs, because we can't afford the maintenance cost of letting everyone use the elevator" is *NOT* "equality"... because it advantages people who can walk well over people in wheelchairs or who have other disabilities; similarly saying "everyone can use the elevator" won't work because that means the people who *need* the elevator end up having to battle against able-bodied people to get access to it. *Actual* equality requires looking at what everyone *needs*, and giving those that need something extra - like elevator access because they can't use the stairs - an extra accommodation, so that everyone can be on equal footing. True equality is giving every religion and every non-religious belief whatever it really needs, so long as it doesn't disrupt anything, or create health or safety risks, or cost anything. The reason the Lord's Prayer had to stop was because it was the school forcing religion on the students. However, Christian students are free to pray whenever they please. In fact, they can even organize Christian clubs and request space to pray in. Indeed, there are Christian student groups that routinely do prayers in schools, and they've been doing it for years (see for example prayerspacesinschools.com). They even have massive events organized across schools, like "See You at the Pole". And that's all fine, so long as it's the students arranging it and not the staff. In fact, I daresay that every single contributor at Canadian Atheist would *defend* those Christian students' right to pray any time they please at school, so long as it doesn't disrupt lessons. But the *exact same logic*, Muslim student prayers are fine as well, so long as they are organized by the students and not the staff and they don't disrupt classes. Pretend for a moment you're not a moron, and try to think this through rationally: Suppose you're a principal at a school with a hundred Muslim students who want to pray on Friday after noon. What do you do? Do you force them to leave school and go to a nearby mosque... running the risk of them getting hurt off-campus, not coming back, and wasting *far* more time than ~15-20 minutes or so? Do you force them to congregate wherever they think they can get away with it, for example doing their prayers in the hallways (much more disruptive!) or sneaking away from teachers' view to find a private area? Or... do you do the sensible thing and let them use an unused space, where they won't interfere with anyone else, and where they can be monitored? Well? What is your solution? > Yes it’s a problem because the Peel region is threatening to cancel French and Music classes because of a lack of money, yet they have supervised prayer rooms??? So you would rather have a prayer room than music or French class? Seriously? Since you’re involved with the Peel board, you know it’s a problem, so why are you ignoring that?

            I am not ignoring it. I have already patiently explained to you that these prayers cost the school board nothing. The rooms are already there and paid for – they only get used as prayer rooms when there are no classes or other school operations in them… shock of shocks, not every room in a school is in use at every moment of the day. The supervisors are all doing it voluntarily – they’re not getting paid any extra salary for it. It… costs… the… school… *NOTHING*.

            Music and French, however, are *NOT* free. They require teaching time – which costs teachers’ salaries… you can ask teachers to volunteer to keep an eye on a bunch of kids for twenty minutes, but you can’t really ask them to *volunteer* to teach a class. There is also equipment and books required, and administration to keep track of who’s in the class and grades and so on. I agree that schools should get more funding, and I agree that it would be a tragedy to lose classes like music and French. But that has nothing to do with the prayer issue because the prayers… cost… the… school… *NOTHING*.

            > If you knew it was organized by a Hindu group, why did you say it was organized by “Canada First”, a “right-wing, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group.

            Okay, you might want to sit down for this. This is going to blow your mind. Are you ready? Take a deep breath. Your world is about to get flip-turned upside down. This is crazy shit. Prepare yourself. Ready? Here it comes.

            It is possible… for a protest… to be organized… by… *more than one group*!

            *BOOM*, brain exploded, right?

            > The color of the protester matters because you’re calling everyone on the board racist, jerk off.

            Uh, no it really doesn’t, jackass. You think only white people can be racist? That’s a pretty racist thing to think.

            > I’d tell you the school but I’ve already done all I can do, I’ve been told to refer to the FAQ on “religious accommodation”. I doubt you have any interest or power in “fixing the problem”.

            Now, Derek may not be comfortable calling you a liar (though now you’re starting to piss even him off with your duplicity, it seems), but I have no problem with it once the evidence has shown that’s what you are. I think at this point it is far beyond a simple case of “misspeaking” or “being unclear”. You have repeated the claims even after being challenged about them, and even gone so far as to insult people who were skeptical about them. These are not vague claims either, they are very specific claims – not only do you claim to know of specific schools where this violation is happening, you’ve even now claimed that you have taken action to stop it and have been referred away. So this is not a simple case of shooting your mouth off; you have made specific claims, and claims that matter a *lot* – if what you say is true, you are literally talking about illegal activities that you know about.

            But of course, I don’t think that’s what’s really happening. I don’t think you really have any evidence of illegal actions in any schools. I think the answer is much simpler.

            You are a liar.

            And I *KNOW* you are a liar, because if you weren’t a liar, you would have no problem telling me the name of the school where these violations are happening. Even if you truly did try “all you can do” (bullshit – and if you did, I can easily ask the school if you’ve ever contacted them; I know your name after all), and even if you really believed that I – managing editor of Canadian Atheist, with connections to dozens of major secularist, humanist, atheist, and freethought organizations, and who knows exactly which reporters to call who would go after this kind of story like a rabid dog – that I could do absolutely *nothing* to fix these violations, there would still be no reason for you not to give the name of the school. Hey, if you think I really could do nothing about the issue because I don’t live in Peel anymore… Derek lives in Peel (I believe), so tell him. Even if I really could do nothing (highly unlikely), it would at least prove you weren’t a liar.

            If what you say is actually happening, it would be *ILLEGAL*. Don’t give me bullshit about how you’ve tried to fix it and got nowhere. All you’d have to do is call the CCLA or CSA or pretty much *ANY* civil liberties, secularist, humanist, atheist, or freethinker organization and they’d *JUMP* on this. This would be top-line news for them. Hell, this would be a *series* on Canadian Atheist. Our Ontario contributors would *fight* each other over the right to take the lead on this story. You claim to have evidence of a violation of the law. It’s only because of your confused understanding of secularism and paranoid delusions of creeping sharia that what you claim is happening could ever actually seem plausible.

            You claim to actually care about this issue? Then why would you not take this golden opportunity to do something about it. Hey, maybe I really can do nothing about it (ha ha, yeah, right), but if you really care about the issue, why wouldn’t it be worth even a shot?

            After all your mouthing off about how much you *care* about this issue, now you’ve painted yourself into a corner. You overplayed your hand, and I’ve called your bluff. Time to put up or shut up.

            I say you are a liar. Organized prayer in the middle of classes really isn’t happening. Prove me wrong, Jason, or Cody, or whatever you’d like to call yourself today. Give the name of the school where it’s happening.

            > Religion at school is fine if it’s during lunch or on your own time, but not during class time. If we can’t agree on that, there’s really no point in talking at all.

            Oh, we can certainly agree on that. Where we disagree is that I don’t believe that it is happening during class time. You claim it is, but won’t provide the evidence. Why not? Could it be that you’re just lying and don’t actually have any evidence?

  3. “Curious to know if by ‘public schools’ they include the Catholic school system… why have they not protested before now?”

    You don’t know they haven’t. And frankly, we should be supportive.

    Even if they are only protesting Muslim prayer in public school, it is nevertheless the right thing to do. You pick the fights you can win. Catholicism is in bed with the Ontario political establishment. It is near-inconceivable that any of them will end the special treatment of Catholics. But we can at least ensure that the public schools stay secular.

    • Chetholic schools based on Chetholic religion, why anyone should oppose ?
      We never said and never against on any religion based school. They can do what ever there , but not in public school it must be secular 1000%

  4. John Stewart brought up the point in a recent article (Feb 24th) published in last Thursday’s print edition

    http://www.mississauga.com/opinion-story/7157476-when-free-speech-is-hate-speech-there-must-be-limits/

  5. I think we are being hypocritical to ignore publicly funded Catholic schools being used as tools of indoctrination while opposing Public schools allowing reasonable accommodation for students to pray.

    Instead, we should promote free thinking clubs (I think Satanic Covens may be going too far 😉 as well in our public schools.

    • Exactly. And the Mississauga News just confirmed that they were there regarding PDSB. There was a photographer there. I must have caught the group just starting to form, seems the were closer to 200 people in the end. I’ll update the post.

      • > It was organized by “Canada First.”

        If they’re the Canada First I’m thinking of, they’re a right-wing, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group.

        • Why are these groups so interested in hiding their real agendas?

          It doesn’t seem like it’s just some sort of reticence they feel at transgressing established social norms.

          It feels almost like psychological pathology, like emergent split personality disorder, which frankly I wouldn’t be surprised at as the the entire global society seems to be going through it.

        • Actually, it was organized by “Concerned Parents of Peel Region”. You seem like an extreme leftist guy so let me tell you that almost all the protesters were not white.

  6. Derek,
    From what I know, the protest is against PDSB (Peel District School Board) and not DPCDSB (Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board).
    Does tis answer your question?

    • I gathered that from the Mississauga News. From the comments I’m getting I guess my sarcasm didn’t come through. I didn’t really think the protest had anything other than fear of Muslim prayer behind it, hidden behind a veil of secularism. But I can’t be sure because I haven’t spoken to them or really know who they are.
      If the issue is really that there should be no religion seen/heard in school to focus on academics, then why wouldn’t they want the same for Catholic students?
      Someone needs to explain to me how students (who are already Muslim) meeting up to pray in a room entirely separated from classroom instruction affects the rest of the students’ academics. Maybe I’m missing something, I don’t see the connection.

  7. Guys, some people don’t understand the fact or they r intentionally trying make wrong statement about this protest.
    Looks like This protest is just saying that no religious practice should be allowed in public school as there are students from different culture and faith is studying togather.
    PDSB should understand that canada is multicultural country if they allow one community to follow their religious activity in the public school, tomorrow another will ask for same.
    This can distract the students from the education.

    • > Looks like This protest is just saying that no religious practice should be allowed in public school as there are students from different culture and faith is studying togather.

      That’s what they’re saying, publicly at least… and it’s stupid.

      It is a completely idiotic argument that not only violates the whole point of a free, multicultural country… it doesn’t even make any sense on its own.

      Take out “school” in that sentence (and change “students” and “studying” to “people” and “working”) and you can see just how transparently stupid that argument is: “No religious practice should be allowed in public because there are people from different cultures and faiths working together.” By that “logic” we shouldn’t just ban religious practices in schools… we should ban them *everywhere*.

      The protesters aren’t stupid enough to advocate taking religious freedom away from everyone. They’re just picking on students, because they’re easier targets who can’t fight back.

      (They’re also deliberately conflating religious practices organized by the school and religious practices organized by the students because they’re dishonest. Or possibly just stupid.)

      • Religion belongs at home, not at school. If you had a child in a Peel region school you’d know that classes are being disrupted by students praying in class, and leaving in the middle of class for large amounts of time. Not only is it disruptive for all of the students in class, how are the Muslims supposed to learn if they’re not even in class for minutes at a time during the day?? If this is something you support, you’re seriously an idiot.

  8. The parents who were at the protest, their kids are going to PDSB; which is why they were protesting against PDSB. Had there been any parent whose kids went to the Catholic schools, they would have protested against that.
    It wouldn’t be proper if a parent whose kids went PDSB was protesting against the DPCDSB .. or for that matter against a school board in Bangladesh.
    If you had visited schools where the students leave the classrooms for prayers, you would have notice that there is a ‘break’ in academic teaching. Until then, believe the parents who are protesting.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

    • That’s at least closer to something concrete. So when the students rise to leave the classroom, this is a significant academic barrier to the rest of the class? Anything else?

  9. We should protest against these stupid Indians wearing there stupid turbans. Not to mention the kerpan is a weapon. How ironic is it that the smelliest most hates people in the gta are protesting against another religion. They are invading our country and trying to set the rules for it. What a disgrace

    • You’re a racist, and a coward, hiding behind anonymity to say ignorant and stupid things.

      Assholes like you are the reason why our commenting policy is going to be changing.

    • Well, these people that you don’t like also don’t want religion in their schools. These are the people that live in Mississauga, like it or not Canada. You should thank them for their courage and time.

  10. From what I heard from an educator, it has negative impact on the Mental Health of the other students.

    • A citation is needed for that ridiculous claim.

      • Here’s a citation from Jan 17 Regular meeting of the Board:
        “Principals confirmed that their experience with student prayer at their schools has been overwhelmingly positive and have acknowledged the high level of respect and responsibility shown by students participating in prayer.”

  11. So basically we’ve all established one thing here is that the entire protest was set up by the “Canada First” group because some schools allow Muslim students to step away from the class rooms for a few minutes to attend their Friday prayers. This act they claim is disruptive to the entire school system somehow and should be stopped immediately along with accommodations for other religious groups as well. Okay, fair enough. Now how about we start with the biggest religious distraction that happens for almost a MONTH Every year in Every school? Yes, I am talking about Christmas! Let’s face it, at the end of the day it is a religious celebration, where every student, teacher and even some parents, spend precious classroom/education hours (and sometimes after school hours) decorating the classrooms or the entire school; spend countless hours singing Christmas songs, rehearsing for and participating in Christmas plays. So if this protest isn’t about any “one” religion as they claim, then let’s start by stopping the most disruptive one to education and then move onto the other religions. Now let’s see exactly how many of these protesters, especially from Canada First, are still willing to keep protesting once this idea is placed in front of them.

    • Well, I may have Christian roots, but if you want to outlaw Christmas and all things Christmasy in order to stop any accommodations for any religious group in a public school, including Muslim (OMG! dare I say it???? I’m such a xenophob, bigot, racist) prayers to be entertained…then I’m all for it. Muslim students take over classrooms for their church services, segregate women from men (with women at the back of the room, so as not to distract the men from their prayer and servitude to Allah, and with menstruating women being all but banned, yet they still have to show up so everyone knows they have their periods… if that’s not an indignity, I don’t know what is)…then I’m all for it. Ban Christmas, ban the holiday, ban the season. If you are for any religious group in a public school using public school dollars for anything other then education, then y’all have drunk the kool-aid…Mr. Indi? I think you’re a muslim in disguise, or at the very least, a snowflake with the mostest distinct, yet ever so fragile, pattern.

    • We live in a Christian majority country (still). All countries have their own holiday period, this is ours. Bob, if you don’t like your heritage, find a nicer more non-Christian place to live.

  12. There is a school in my ward (my child is not in that one); where they celebrate ‘Islamic Month’. While I’m not a Muslim, I have /do contribute to it, both with physical efforts and monetarily. I’ve purchased clothes and accessories for display, and assisted with the display.

    Now why do I do this – I mean support ‘Islamic Month’, while at the same time I’m opposing the prayers – the reason is mental health of kids. I strongly believe that the allowing prayers during school’s academic time would be detrimental for education.

    I want all kids to grow in the environment where they feel welcomed and be respected – and one part is that they feel that their heritage is also respectable. Which is why the school staff encourages Muslim kids to bring stuff from home for display and show and tell. When, and in areas where I feel that they are lacking, I would step in and help them (via staff) along. Remember that the school population changes, and some years the kids are motivated, some years not so much.
    This is also why Black History was started – for improving the mental health of the black students.

    • > I strongly believe that the allowing prayers during school’s academic time would be detrimental for education.

      Putting aside your “strong belief” in that nonsense “mental health” claim, the prayers are *not* held during class time; the prayers are being organized by the students, not the teachers, and held in the students’ free time. If you didn’t know that, you clearly have no idea what the debate is really about.

      > I want all kids to grow in the environment where they feel welcomed and be respected – and one part is that they feel that their heritage is also respectable.

      So you believe it’s okay for Muslim kids to let everyone know they’re Muslim… it’s just not okay for those Muslim kids to actually *be* Muslim. That’s not multiculturalism; that’s tokenism. If you *actually* respect the kids’ rights – as Canadian citizens – to be Muslim, then you should also respect their right to practice their Muslim beliefs (so long as they don’t interfere with the rights of others… which they don’t). Otherwise, you don’t really respect their rights at all.

      • I doubt you really feel the same for any and all other religions. Respecting rights goes both ways. Because we are multi-cultural, there should one rule and one law for all. Religion has no place, and there should be no accommodations for any religious group within a public school system. All it does is further segregate our students into classes according to religious and cultural beliefs. Many, many different cultures such as Italian, Indian, Portuguese, British etc. attend the school system and simply accept that their religious education is best done on their own time, and cultural practices best preserved within the family. You only need to open your eyes and look around you into the rest of the world to see where that leads…it’s not difficult, simply Google. don’t even try to come at me with the Catholic school system..it is not the same as the public, but if I had my way, the Catholic system would amalgamate with the public. Anyone who wishes for religious accommodations should do what other groups have done, and simply start their own schools, or home-school.

      • So you would say it is acceptable for students to hold prayers as long as a teacher isn’t involved? Aren’t teachers supposed to be present in any and all student activities? So you think it’s acceptable for certain students to opt out of core curriculum, such as music and art in a public school?

        You are ok with Christian students forbidding everyone to use the phrase “OMG” (Oh My God!), because Christians find it offensive? What about it being offensive for people calling Christmas “The Holidays”? according to Christians? What about Fish on Fridays? Observance of Lent? Is there a Christian month celebrated? a hindu month? a Cherokee month? a Mennonite month? an Athiest month? A Budhist month? A Scientology month? It is absurd to think we can accommodate all religions in such a public setting.

        Your double-speak is as transparent as my post here is.

        • > Because we are multi-cultural, there should one rule and one law for all. Religion has no place, and there should be no accommodations for any religious group within a public school system.

          There is one law for all; it’s just not the law you want, which would impose your view on everyone else for no good reason. You don’t seem to understand how Canadian law actually works.

          > So you would say it is acceptable for students to hold prayers as long as a teacher isn’t involved?

          Yes.

          > Aren’t teachers supposed to be present in any and all student activities?

          Not unless this is day care, and not an actual school.

          > So you think it’s acceptable for certain students to opt out of core curriculum, such as music and art in a public school?

          No. What does that even have to do with this?

          > You are ok with Christian students forbidding everyone to use the phrase “OMG” (Oh My God!), because Christians find it offensive?

          No. Again, this has nothing to do with this.

          > What about it being offensive for people calling Christmas “The Holidays”? according to Christians?

          No.

          > What about Fish on Fridays?

          Yummy.

          > Observance of Lent?

          No.

          > Is there a Christian month celebrated?

          No.

          > a hindu month?

          No.

          > a Cherokee month?

          Maybe. “Cherokee” is not a religion.

          > a Mennonite month?

          No.

          > an Athiest month?

          No.

          > A Budhist month?

          No.

          > A Scientology month?

          No.

          Any other stupid questions?

  13. Ok,

    Looks like the crucial point here is whether the students are leaving during the middle of class to go pray, or are praying during their own free pre-class/lunch/end of day time.

    If we don’t establish these facts first, then we run the risk of this thread degenerating into a nonsensical free-for-all bigot’s dream in the same fashion Canada First is being accused of.

    So are they or aren’t they using class time to pray?

    • They are not using class time to pray.

      There was a problem earlier in another school board (North York) where students were leaving the school to go pray at a mosque, then not coming back. That problem was resolved by letting the students use the cafeteria (when lunch wasn’t being served) to pray at school. The scandal in that case was that they were allowing an imam in to lead the prayers. So they stopped allowing the imam in, and now the students lead the prayers themselves. Problem solved.

      *This* situation began when the Peel board wanted to avoid a similar scandal. To be proactive, they said students could organize a prayer group in school… but the school would have to approve their prayers. That last part was a no-go – you can’t have a secular school system choosing which prayers are kosher and which aren’t. So they dropped it, and now the policy is simply that students can organize their own prayers on their own time – the only involvement of the school itself is that they provide the space and will step in if there are any complaints or problems.

      In point of fact, the students are already doing this, and have been doing it for a while now. The only thing that’s changed is that this has now become an official policy, rather than being ad hoc.

    • My children are saying that they do it DURING class time. Several schools have supervised private Muslim prayer rooms.

  14. Yes, they are leaving class early to go pray. In addition, This was all done as a stop-safe to students leaving for Mosque during lunch periods and not coming back to school, it was initiated to prevent truancy. It has no place in public schools.

    Furthermore, if any other religion segregated men from women, forced women at the back of the room and further segregated women who have their periods from the rest of the students…OMG! Can you imagine the outrage? I can see the headline now “Christian Men Forbid Women to Pray Alongside”.

    • > Furthermore, if any other religion segregated men from women….

      If there is any segregation happening, *that* is what should be stopped. Not whatever else is happening, whether it’s prayer or not. If women are being denied equal use of the instruments in the band practice, that should be dealt with; banning the band would be stupid. If women are being made to sit separately and silently at the back during book club, that should be dealt with; banning book club would be stupid. If women are being made to sit in the back during prayer, that should be dealt with; banning prayer would be stupid.

      Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

      • Has there been any known attempt to challenge the practice of segregation during Muslim prayer time?

        • Given that the policy hasn’t even formally been approved yet, there hasn’t been any practice of segregation yet to challenge.

          However, had there ever been a case in any school district in Ontario – or indeed anywhere in Canada – where someone complained about gender segregation and was just ignored by the administration, I’m confident Ezra Levant would have been all over it. Hasn’t happened. If it ever does, we’ll deal with it.

          • I was under the impression that Muslim prayer services were already being held in certain public schools. Even in this thread there are stories of imans entering schools, and students attending prayer services in cafeterias. These two points make it seem as if prayers are already happening – and possibly the practice of segregation. I do not have any direct evidence, however.

          • Indi, there is segregation in Mississauga. Besides dropping class to attend a mosque or pray, you probably don’t even know there are several schools completely dedicated to Muslims in Mississauga (and the GTA) called “Al Huda School”. Is there any greater segregation? They are private but only cost $400 for the year per child (funded by Canada or Middle East?). Mr Social Justice Warrior, you don’t live here.

          • Mark, you are 100% correct since I live here.

        • Muslim students have been organizing their own prayer services *informally* for many, many years. (Probably as long as there have been Muslim students. What’s “changed” in recent years is that the number of Muslim students has grown considerably, so the groups are much larger and easier to notice, and of course people are actively on the lookout for Muslim activity.) I know of fairly large-scale organized services in many different school districts, mostly in and around the GTA. (I only know about what’s going on in Ontario; can’t speak for anywhere else.) Up until now, it’s been on individual schools or sometimes even individual teachers to decide what to do about them. The case in North York of the cafeteria imam is an example of one school getting it wrong.

          This *current* flap started because – I *think* for the very first time in Canada – a school district has drafted an official policy on student prayers. They did it specifically because of the fallout from that North York school’s terrible decision.

          So we don’t have any *official* information about how the Muslim student prayer services are being run, or whether there’s segregation, or whether there have been any complaints about it. There are vague rumours of segregation, but they’re all unconfirmed, and may just be bigots griping. Or it may just be instances of “voluntary” segregation, where the women are free to sit where they please but *choose* to all sit at the back – which they are free to choose to do, and the school can’t do anything about. As I mentioned there has never been any case reported where someone has actually complained about segregation and been ignored.

          So thus far, there have not been any confirmed cases of segregation, and thus, nothing to challenge. There hasn’t been any official policy or framework in place before, so there *might* have been a case that just hasn’t been officially acknowledged… but given the scrutiny by opponents that seems *highly* unlikely.

          Now that everything’s becoming official, it will be easier to keep tabs on things. If an issue with segregation comes up, it will be dealt with. But it hasn’t happened yet.

          And if you’re wondering *how* it will be dealt with, that’s already a closed issue: Ontario law will not allow schools to tolerate gender segregation. Much as with the issue of allowing prayer in the first place, the school board doesn’t even have a choice in the matter. If Muslim students are forcing girls to sit at the back, they will be disciplined, and the practice banned. That’s not school policy, it’s the law.

          But it hasn’t happened yet, and it might not ever happen – one can presume the students will be warned about it when they first ask for a place to pray in. So there’s been nothing to challenge.

  15. As long as they’re not praying for any dead relatives taken in the nonstop wars in the middle east, i guess they can pray.

    But there should probably be some sort of camera surveillance of the prayers and possibly also some sort of indoor surveillence drone making sure they go back to class and not try to leave the premises.

    • They are supervised by volunteer staff, and it has to be in english, other than direct quotes.

    • They can pray in whatever language they want, imagine the SJWs crying if we forced them to pray in English?!? lol. If you don’t know Arabic, they can say anything. Hell, even when there is hate speech from Imans in Canada, we don’t do anything about it!

      Some schools made a Muslim prayer room because they were leaving class and not coming back to pray at 12:30 or leave school early to attend 3:30 prayer.

  16. @Mark Conte
    > One observation and one question.

    1) No. There have been specifically Muslim prayer spaces in schools for at least two decades. And for other religions, there have been similar accommodations probably for as long as we’ve had multiculturalism, which goes back way before I was born. There was, for example, a kerfuffle about Sikh kids bringing kirpans to school about a decade ago.

    The only thing “new” is that I *think* Peel is the first school district to adopt a formal, district-wide policy regarding this specific kind of accommodation (organized prayers by fairly large groups of students). Before this, Peel and all school districts just had a generic accommodation policy, and it was up to individual schools to figure out how to apply it in practice… which they did for decades. But a couple years back there was a big controversy that came up because a Toronto school made a very, very stupid decision about how to accommodate their Muslim students. So Peel decided to be proactive and draft a policy for the schools, to take the pressure of having to figure things out off them. Peel’s first attempt at a policy was terrible (that was where the teachers would write/approve sermons for the students), and widely protested as a violation of secularism (school officials cannot dictate religion to students), but then they fixed it. At that point everything should have been fine… but that’s when the islamophobic protesters started showing up, disrupting the school board meetings.

    So no, none of this is due to anything new about Muslim students, prayer spaces, or reasonable accommodation of student religions in schools. What has changed is that recent political shifts have suddenly made it acceptable to be openly and virulently anti-Muslim. These groups protesting are not new either – they have been recognized as anti-Muslim groups for years if not decades, and have *never* done any secular protesting before this. They’re just taking advantage of the new political climate to come out of the shadows, and harass Muslims publicly by means of their faux-secular posturing. This whole prayer space accommodation thing is just a pretext for them to flex their newfound political muscle.

    2) That question is impossible to answer, because there is no “ideology of Islam”. You don’t understand Islam, fine, but can I presume you understand Christianity? What would you say the “ideology of Christianity” is? You can see the question just makes no sense.

    In fact, you can pretty much replace Islam with Christianity in any discussion of Islam and Canadian society. Just as there are hundreds, if not *thousands* of strains of Christianity, there are hundreds of different strains of Islam. Christianity has its major divisions in Catholicism and Protestantism, then dozens of sub-sects of each – Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, etc. under Catholicism; Anglicanism, Pentecostalism, etc. under Protestantism – and each of those have many more divisions within them. Islam is pretty much the same: its major divisions are Shia and Sunni, and under those there are sub-sects – Ashari, Salafi, etc. (Sunni); Ismaili, Houthi, etc. (Shia) – each with many more divisions within them.

    Are there strains of Islam that are furiously hostile to modern values of tolerance, equality, feminism, democracy, and secularism? Yes, definitely yes… but there are *also* strains of Christianity that are just as incompatible. And just as most strains of Christianity can function within a modern society by cherry-picking what parts of their atrocity-laden holy text and doctrines to live by, most strains of Islam do the same. It is functionally impossible to say “all Christians believe _____” for *anything*, because no matter what you stick in there, I can find you a Christian group that disagrees with it. The same is true for Muslims. There are Christians who don’t believe Jesus actually existed, and there are Muslims who believe the same about Muhammad.

    So the only way I can practically answer the question of whether Muslims can peacefully coexist with Canadian culture is to point out that millions of Muslims have been living in Canada for generations without a problem – in fact, there are about a million right now in a country with a population of 35 million, and there’s no fire, nor has there ever been in the past. And across all modern democracies, there are many, many million Muslims living peacefully and effectively within those systems. So clearly it *is* possible to be a Muslim in Canada without a problem. It doesn’t matter that their holy book says horrifying and nasty things – Christians’ holy book has numerous genocides and guidelines for selling your daughter into slavery and raping foreign women you like (and other religions have equally backward and horrifying things in *their* religious texts); just like Christians do, most Muslims in reality simply ignore the bad bits.

    In fact, if you look at where all the problems start, they start in exactly two places: First, the tiny minority of really fundamentalist Muslims, who do things that are anathema to Canadian values (like sneaking their kids out of the country to get FGM, or honour killings, and so on) – but those people are usually loudly condemned by most Canadian Muslims; they are not representative of the majority. The second source of trouble is the tiny minority of loudmouth islamophobes, who kick up controversy specifically to harass Muslims (often completely ignoring similar issues with other religions just to focus on Muslims). This case is a textbook example of the second type of troublemaker.

  17. Seems this type of behaviour by the hindus and their inciters is no freak occurrence.

    Seems there is actual incitement to violence actively being orchestrated both here and abroad:

    indian-mob-attacks-africans

    We cannot support this mob hysteria in Canada.
    Someone needs to tap this Peel “parents’ group” on the shoulder and say “hey, you’re going a bit loony”.

  18. Just want to say that if you want religion in a school Then have a seperate school Board and seperate school. Just like catholic schools. Years ago growing up in Brampton I went to public school. Every morning we sang O Canada and said the Lord’s Prayer. Then years later the peel borad of education was pressured by other religions and took the Lord’s Prayer out of our public schools and said that there was no place for religion in the public schools. NOW that the other religions that kicked the Lord’s Prayer out of the schools are moving to have their religion put in place. Fair is fair. No Lord’s Prayer in public schools = no other prayers in public school. Otherwise bring back the Lord’s Prayer. Canada is no longer Canada. We have bent over backwards for other religions and other immigrants that we have thrown away what made Canada Canada so that we don’t “offend” new comers. Yet st same time we have destroyed what made this country. If I come into your house and tell you what to watch on tv or what to cook or anything I’m pretty sure you’d tell me to F’ off and get out of your house. So why is it ok to let you into my country and have you tell me what to do? If you can’t live in Canada and assimilate to our ways then please feel free to go back to where you came from. This is Canada. Not Muslim land. The Brampton civic hospital at bramalea and bovaird has a floor dedicated to East Indians only with prayer rooms and foot wash places and it’s for East Indian patients only. Because the East Indian community donated a large amount of money to help fund its build. All I have to say is if you come to Canada to live that’s fine. I welcome you and what you have to OFFER Canada. But if your coming to Canada to force us to change then please go back to where you came from. This is Canada. My home. Native land.

    • Wayne, clearly you haven’t read the other replies to similarly misleading arguments. I addressed this in this very thread already:

      The PDSB Key Facts sheet says it fairly clearly – but I’m not sure why you still believe the issue is equivalent to the removal of the Lord’s Prayer. Just saying “religion” and “school” in the same sentence doesn’t make the situations the same. They’re fundamentally different (LP = Lord’s Prayer issue, JP = Friday Jummah Prayer issue):

      LP: All students exposed to prayer regardless of beliefs; JP: Only students who feel their faith requires Friday prayer go off to a separate place.[…]
      LP: School system endorsing a single religion; JP: Any religion can request accommodation [ NO ENDORSEMENT, no “FORCING” – accommodation like any other extra-curricular club/activity. You just don’t happen to LIKE this activity, but that’s irrelevant]
      LP: School board’s decision; JP: School board must legally accommodate, no choice. The protests are entirely misdirected.

      I understand you don’t want either LP nor JP, but that doesn’t make the issues the same, nor does it mean the same power to change JP resides in the PDSB. Which of my bullets above do you feel is factually incorrect?

    • As a Canadian, let me tell you to STFU and you don’t speak for me. Nor is the Canada that you remember the Canada that was Canada or made Canada Canada.

      The most you’ll get from me, for this student group activity, is that they should not be allowed to miss any minutes of class, as the other students are not allowed to do.

  19. If Christian symbols are removed from public schools there should not be allowed any religious symbols at all.
    Kids should not wear the hijab or the turban at all at public schools!!its a religious symbol and we do not wanna see them in public schools!!.
    Either we agree on this or we agree on tolerating each other!!
    The heck with these Muslim and Indian dark colored skin protesters

    • Whatever you’re trying to say, it sounds like complete gibberish.
      Rules for schools have nothing to do with rules for people.
      The school is not promoting any religious symbols.
      You sound non-sensical.

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