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Let Muslim students pray in Catholic schools

Ideas

Let Muslim students pray in Catholic schools

Three months ago, the controversial anti-bullying legislation (Bill 13) was passed at Queen’s Park, mandating all Ontario schools, including Catholic schools, to allow gay-straight alliances (GSAs). Both the governing Liberals and the NDP voted for its passage with the rationale that “there are values that transcend any one faith.”
 
I agree, and I applauded the decision. I supported it because I am a firm believer that all publicly funded schools should be places of learning where every student feels welcomed and safe regardless of their sex, religion, physical/mental capacity or sexual orientation.
 
Last week we learned that Ontario’s minister of education had permitted officials at a Catholic high school in London to build a Muslim prayer room on the second floor of their building.
 
Admittedly, when I first read the news, I was unsure whether or not I agreed with this. My initial reaction, similar to other individuals was, If Muslim students want the right to pray while at school, why don’t they just attend a public school? 
 
But the more I contemplated, the more I realized there really is no difference between the issue of GSAs and the decision to allow 24 Muslim students to pray once a week in converted office space in a Catholic school.
 
You see, the parents of these Muslim students have, in fact, sent their children to a public school; it just happens to be a Catholic one. For that reason, the same logic used in the GSA issue should apply here as well. That is to say, if your institution is funded by taxpayers, it is entirely reasonable to ask that no one faith transcends the values we cherish as Ontarians, including the right to pray to whichever god you choose.
 
However, if this right is to be granted, then the equal treatment of girls and women in any and every corner of this country must also be defended. Therefore, the responsibility rests with the school administration and the 24 Muslim students to ensure that their female classmates pray beside, and not behind, their male counterparts.
 
Understandably, for some, this is a contentious and complex issue, but allow me to clarify some misgivings that are already beginning to emerge in this debate.
 
Firstly, this has nothing to do with the encroachment of Islam chipping away at the “secular” fabric of our society; we have a long way to go before we can genuinely call ourselves a secular province. We can start by creating one truly public school system and asking parents who want their children educated within the religious institution of their choice to pay for that indoctrination themselves.
 
Secondly, this is not about allowing the practice of religious services in publicly funded schools through the back door; Catholic students continue to pray and worship openly, during school hours, and at the expense of Ontario taxpayers.  
 
Finally, allowing 24 young Muslims students the right to pray once a week inside the walls of a Catholic school is not the beginning of the end, and it will not result in the systematic removal of crucifixes in schools across this province. Anyone who genuinely believes this threat to be true is choosing to propagate fear and is willfully ignoring reality. 
 
If anything, the staff and students at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School should be immensely proud of their school community. Considering all the religious protests currently taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, this decision, approved by a principal, a school board and the government, should be seen as an attestation of what a functional, fair and pluralistic society has the capacity to become.
 
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Comments

Hey Moby....
Dick here, I would very much like to know exactly where these area's you speak of are and how marginalized they are? You said,"...as I gay man who still indentifies as Muslim, I am thankful that there are now meetings and prayer areas that only tolerate progressive Muslim values, which includes anti-sexism and anti-homophobia." Where are they? Name them! Bring them out of the closet, (are they in the closet?) I want to know how many there are, who runs them, what other Muslim organizations think of these "areas" and how many of you are there engaging in this hypothetical Muslim progressiveness you are talking about? Just because you make a statement doesn't mean it's true. I want some FACTS to back up your statements. Thank you.
Choice
As a gay male who grew up in a strict Muslim household, I didn't had the choice of being Muslim. We are talking about young people who have authority figures to report to. Also, let's face it: some schools in some areas have their reputations good or bad. If I were a Muslim parent, choosing between a Catholic and non-Catholic school in my neighbourhood, I would send them to the school which has better teachers, results, or safer. I believe in the right to religious freedoms, and as I gay man who still indentifies as Muslim, I am thankful that there are now meetings and prayer areas that only tolerate progressive Muslim values, which includes anti-sexism and anti-homophobia.
So Muslims calling for Gays to be killed is OK too
These Muslim leaders you`re anxious to suck up to thing Gays should be killed. Smart move advocating for them in Xtra. Trying to get Gay people to help with their own extermination. You can take your Islam and shove it up your ass.
Beware school equity groups
Jim and others,
Beware school equity groups. What one hand giveth, the other taketh away. Equity departments at schools are notorious for being obnoxiously friendly to Islam all the while ignoring the dangers the religion poses (to gays for one).
No
Despite its recognition of the issue, this article is insensitive to the real problem for the people who visit this side: the massive human rights violations perpetrated in the name of Islam.

Unlike most Christian denominations, Islam seeks ultimately to be a social and political force in the world.

The increasing islamification of society must be stopped at all costs.

By the way, to argue that women should be able to pray beside men....is beyond stupid and shows that the author does not really understand what is going on. Why don't we start by saying that Canadian imams must be forced not to preach that women should not be beaten and gays should be stoned to death.
are those arched eyebrows on the imammy
Can they not be taught to quietly "pray" in their heads as their desks or in the washroom and not make a huge Broadway musical out of the whole thing with special rooms and rugs and wailing and bowing on the floor? Isn't that all a bit for show and show off? A bit camp and histrionic, indeed deliberately theatrical?
Prayer Rooms
Hmmm...let's see: Muslim families send their kids to CATHOLIC Schools...and then insist that special prayer rooms and allowances be provided on premises. If this ain't proof of further Islamic incursion and "chipping away", then I'm not sure what is. I grew up in a multi-cultural multi-faith public educational system at a time when no one was granted special status...and we all turned out pretty much okay. I find these new p.c. trends troubling.
ummm
One major difference. People CHOOSE to be muslims ( or catholics) people do not choose to be gay. GSA that fundamental principle makes GSA's and muslim prayer rooms totally incomparable. Society cannot continue to accommodate every minorities fucking choices.
Useful idiots
are very very helpful with Jihad. ...............http://youtu.be/3JqSpmD7yMI............
Muslim Prayer Room Bad for Gays
There are so many assumptions wrong with in this column, it's hard to know where to begin.

First off, prayer rooms shouldn't be available in public (i.e. non Catholic) schools either as this contravenes the Education Act which states there shall be no state sactioned worship in public schools.

Second, prayer rooms are not like GSA's. GSA's are secular groups and are open to all students (straight, gay, men, women, etc.). They cannot be compared to religious groups which set themselves apart from the student body and proclaim the right to behave according to religious law and not secular law (e.g. using religious law to discriminate against girls in the group).

While I'm not crazy about Catholic schools being publicly funded, they have a special constitutional right to do so. Muslims should not assume they also have this same (imperfect) right under the law.

Fourth, as someone who actually works in a school, I do see this as the beginning of the end of public, secular education. School schedules, precious school space, and secular values (as well as tax payer dollars for schools) are all disrupted to serve the interests of one religion: Islam. Muslim prayer rooms have everything to do with establishing Islam as the state religion that receives special consideration in the way schools are run.

Prayer rooms in the school are bad for women and gays (as well as other religions who, frankly, haven't requested prayer rooms and won't use them). They will be the place where watchful Muslim eyes work to make teachers do the bidding of Sharia law. It's already happening to harm girls and I'm sure it's going to happen to gays as well.

Fifth, I suggest this columnist come clean regarding the number of Islamic prayers that have to do with cursing the infidel. If they were properly understood and read in English in schools, I can assure you more non-Muslims would be up in arms regarding what is being taught and repeated in these Muslim prayer rooms.

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