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Islamophobia goes to school in Toronto

by Mairin Piccinin


On Sept. 11, three religious groups set aside conflicting ideologies in a crusade against Islam in Toronto schools, for the third time in less than two months. 

A fringe coalition representing the Jewish Defense League (JDL), Christian Heritage Party (CHP) and the Canadian Hindu Advocacy (CHA) stood together in front of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) central offices, protesting a decision by administrators at a Toronto middle school allowing Muslim students to hold Friday afternoon prayers in the school’s empty cafeteria.
 
The latest protest marked the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, with the goal -- as declared on the large sign carried by one protester -- to draw attention to “the infiltration of radical Islam in Canadian institutions.”  Others brandished placards exclaiming “No to Islam, yes to Muslim” and “The TDSB is on LSD,” while chanting “Muhammad was a pedophile.”
 
Valley Park Middle School serves an inner-city community that is predominantly Muslim, and approximately 80% of its students actively practice the faith. Three years ago, the principal grew concerned that hundreds of Muslim students were leaving school early on Friday afternoons to attend prayers at a local mosque, as their faith requires. 
 
For Valley Park, accommodating the 30-minute weekly prayer service within the school seemed like a good solution to the problem of lost instructional time and the safety issue of students walking unsupervised to and from the mosque. Three years later, despite the school having received no complaints from students, parents, or the wider community, its religious accommodation has attracted the ire of anti-Islamists, who insist that it unfairly discriminates against other faiths.
 
School board officials point out that only Muslim students face this timetable conflict with religious services. Like all Western nations, Canada follows the Judeo-Christian calendar. Weekends are designed to accommodate the weekly holy days of the Jewish and Christian religions, but not that of Islam, which falls on Friday. 
 
Media coverage of this issue has focused largely on the in-school prayer debate, dismissing the protesters as an isolated fringe and side-stepping examination of root causes like growing Islamophobia.
 
The small number of secularists participating in one of the earlier protests were quick to distance themselves from the Islamophobic hysteria on display around them, maintaining they are simply opposed to any religious practices within the public education system.
 
“It has nothing to do with the specific religion,” said one embarrassed-looking man. “Whether it’s Islam or Catholicism, I don’t want my tax dollars funding any religion in public schools.” 
 
“These people are nuts. They don’t represent Torontonians so nobody really cares too much about what they have to say,” said one mainstream journalist, off the record, at the group’s first protest in July. “We probably won’t cover it, unless it’s a slow news day.” 
 
Politicians seem to hold the same view that the issue is nothing but a local dust-up.  
 
“I have confidence in the ability of school boards and schools to sit down with parents, with the community, and to make decisions that meet the needs of that community,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty during a campaign stop in Newmarket on September 9. 
 
When asked for his party’s position on this issue in the midst of an election campaign, McGuinty said, “If you knock on doors around the province of Ontario and ask them today about schools, they’re not talking about that.” 
 
However, the results of a survey conducted last week by the Association for Canadian Studies suggest that Islamophobia in Canada is not limited to “fringe” elements like the JDL, CHP, CHA, and others. When 1,500 Canadians were asked whether they believe there is an irreconcilable conflict between Western and Muslim societies, more then half of respondents (56%) answered “Yes.” 
 
These findings may signal a growing malignancy in Canada’s body politic. In fact, it appears that Toronto, long considered a bubble of multicultural tolerance, has not been immune to the rising tide of Islamophobia across the Western world since 9-11.
 
While mainstream public discourse in Toronto has, for the most part, remained fairly civil, virulent on-line opinions, like these reader comments on two Toronto Sun articles, are increasingly common:
 
“Sick, sick, sick. Children can't say the Lord's prayer...but they bring in an "Imam" representing a death-cult to pray in class?!?!?  What's next - will he bring the suicide vests too??” 
Hindus Protest Prayer at Public School,   Toronto Sun, 04/07/11
 
“It's difficult not to know about this religion. It's in the headlines every day, around the world. And it doesn't look good. What right do you have to pray in a public school setting? Are you that ignorant of Canadian society? Or do you just not care how things are done here?”  
Hindus Protest Prayer at Public School,   Toronto Sun, 04/07/11
 
“I am only going to say this ONCE. I am sick of these douche bag muslim pigs telling us what we can and can't do!  Don't like it go back to your s h i t t bag mud huts. Our kids can't say the Lords prayer because it OFFENDS YOU. I find you all offensive. This is MY COUNTRY. My ancestors had a hand in building this country. My family went to war to fight for OUR FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS. NOT YOURS. PHUK OFF!”  
 
The recent protests at the Toronto school board have also brought supporters into the light. A Thank You TDSB rally is planned for Saturday, September 17, to show support for the school board’s refusal to back down. With several Muslim organizations helping spreading the word, rally organizers are anticipating that hundreds of supporters could attend.
 
For their part, the anti-prayer coalition is also planning to show up in numbers. With as many as 300 people expected outside TDSB’s head offices on either side of the issue, a police presence is likely.  

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Topics: Education
964 words

Comments

islamophobia

islamophobia is a term used to any who criticize islam, but it wont work because regardless of the name calling like racist, bigot, ilsamophobe, ect. islam will still be criticized and scrutinized no matter the name calling. there is a growing backlash against islam all over the western world. laws are getting introduced banning sharia law and immigration from muslim countries are coming to a stop. until islam joins the 21st century and violent passages of the koran are removed, things will continue as they are.

For those who haven't read the Qur'an, simply read the book. Take out a highlighter and highlight those lines that counsel the believer to despise infidels, and you will find a book that is just covered with highlighter. The Qur'anic texts deals 61% on how to treat the non believer & kafir. THIS IS POLITICAL. Why would any rational person give it 100% religious protection?"There is no such thing as Islamophobia. Bigotry and racism exist, of course—and they are evils that all well-intentioned people must oppose. And prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, purely because of the accident of their birth, is despicable. But like all religions, Islam is a system of ideas and practices. And it is not a form of bigotry or racism to observe that the specific tenets of the faith pose a special threat to civil society. Nor is it a sign of intolerance to notice when people are simply not being honest about what they and their co-religionists believe.

How Interesting

How interesting that an article about Islamophobia is followed by a comment reflecting the problem.

Islam is no more "backward" than Christianity and Judaism.  All three of these monotheistic religions have their reactionary and extremist elements.  Christian fanatics who bomb abortion clinics and murder Doctors are every bit as odious as their Muslim counterparts.

Before we demand that Muslims re-write the Koran as their price for admittance to the "21st Century," we should start with the Bible which contains passages supporting genocide and slavery, as well as calling for the murder of men "who lay down" with other men.  The point is not that Christians necessarily believe in genocide, slavery or the murder of gay men, any more than Muslims do.  What we demand of others we must first expect of ourselves.

It's also interesting that people making these types of arguments most often preface their remarks with statements like "bigortry is bad" and "I'm not a racist, however..." as a way to deflect the entirely justified accusations of bigotry and racism arising from their argument that Islam and Muslims are a "threat" to western societies.  However, subjecting an entire religion and community to double-standards that we do not apply to ourselves is the very definition of bigotry.

Gutter journalism

A 'mainstream journalist who spoke off the record' ??

I see this issue in the news all the time, doesnt seem that any mainstream journos are ignoring it at all.

In fact if this issue were not getting a lot of press and media oxygem, mediacoop would not be talking about it .. would they?

It's very amusing when a fringe media blog talks about 'mainstream journalists'. The mainstream journalists that they themselves want to be part of, but have been rejected from.

 

 

 

the truth about alt journalism

Its interesting then, that we covered every major story about the G20 protests live, about 6 months before the 'mainstream' got a hold of it. Same with the abuses of Canadian Mining Companies, and indigenous issues. Actually if you look at who does alt journalism, that's not the career path you describe at all, I personally have sent off exactly 0 applications to the Toronto Sun, the Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star or any other mainstream media outlet.  We do often cover things NOT getting a lot of press.. see the Vancouver media coops series on women in the dowtowne ast side. If you don't like our politics, that's fine, you'd do better attacking us there. Seems to me that with almost no budget on many topics we give the mainstream a run for their money. And lets not talk about the quality of journalism from the mainstream either - they do cover these issues, but they aren't allowed to say that they are cranks and racists for some unknown reason.

A 'mainstream journa

A 'mainstream journalist who spoke off the record' ??
I see this issue in the news all the time, doesnt seem that any mainstream journos are ignoring it at all.
In fact if this issue were not getting a lot of press and media oxygem, mediacoop would not be talking about it .. would they?
It's very amusing when a fringe media blog talks about 'mainstream journalists'. The mainstream journalists that they themselves want to be part of, but have been rejected from.

_________
Pseudo: hellenstaten
Website: vacances en tunisie

Honestly?

Liberals and "progressives" have worked so hard to have every last ounce of religion removed from the public school system - yet you all seem to be jubilant to allow Imams onto school property to indoctrinate Muslim youth.  HYPOCRITES! 

You mean the public school

You mean the public school system that puts up gives Christian holidays off  and has an entire, public- funded Catholic system in it? THAT system got rid of every once of religion? Look, I not for public funding of religion in any way, but I am for the freedom of individual students to practice their religions, whatever they are. I know that in MY school, paid for by the government, we had mandatory religious indoctrination every single day. I'm against that. But I'm not against optional religious practices if students themselves choose to practice them.

The 3 myths of Canadian Immigration...

Hi; this paper took me 8 months and hundreds of hours of research. It compares Canada's immigration system to America's and the civil war currently raging across the European subcontinent.

 

Here is the link ===>

http://slaughteredsheep.blogspot.com/

 

Here's some additional info you might find fascinating...

2011 Labor Force: 18.7 million(Globe and Mail Newspaper)

2011 unemployment Numbers: 1.4 million(Stats Canada)

 

2002 Labor Force: 6.5 million (Stats Can/Who Gets In, By: Daniel Stoffman/2002)

2002 unemployment Numbers: 525,000(Stats Canada)

 

Job Creation 2011: 240,000(Benjamin Tal/ CIBC World Markets)

Job Creation 2010: 372,000(Benjamin Tal/ CIBC World Markets)

Job Creation 2012: 15,000/month/180,000(BMO economists)

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