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.

46 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.

  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.

  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.)

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

        • 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.

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