CTV News video and text.
City TV video and text.
Okay three television news stations and their reporting on the TDSB protest. The City TV one was focused more on Mr. Bannerjee of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and trying to discredit him.
The coverage was rather tame to be honest.
Things get a little more interesting when you look to print editions of the protest. The Toronto sun was fairly balanced and covered both sides it seems. Not bad for a right wing newspaper.
Group protests prayers in school
Only thing I have issue with are the numbers he counted. He says 50 while there were at least 100 people there protesting, waving signs and listening to what the organizers had to say.
Now the Toronto Star piece was different altogether....
Protesters oppose Muslim prayer in public schools:
I will cut and paste a few tidbits here and then make my comments.
Standing at the back of the crowds, far from the megaphone-wielding speakers, York University students Mariam Hamaoui and Sarah Zubaira had their own signs espousing their right to pray in school.
They came to thank the school board for providing a place for the Valley Park students to pray. Previously those students had left their school to attend prayers at a nearby mosque on Fridays. [snip]...
Hamaoui, 18, said she had to go to the basement to pray when she attended Etobicoke Collegiate Institute because “there was no other place.”
“I think people should be open minded. I don’t see the problem to go pray. Praying is helping everybody,” she told reporters and the protesters who aggressively confronted her.
“Universities let anybody pray. I don’t see the problem with having middle schools,” she told one woman.
To a man who told her that prayer belonged at home, she said, “Is our school not a second home?”
“It’s our constitutional right,” said Zubaira, who wore a hijab for the first time on Monday.[snip]...
Outside on the board steps, Toronto grandmother Frances Flynt said she came to the protest to “oppose having a mosque in a school.”
She said her grandchildren are only permitted to sing secular songs like Jingle Bells at Christmas. “They’re not allowed to sing hymns in school,” she said.
Artist and atheist Ryan Browne came alone to the protest.
“I felt so strongly about it I decided I’d come down and do something about it,” he said, adding that he fears “our public institutions can be apprehended by certain interest groups.
“I work for the TDSB, I try to teach in an environment of equity. I just find this kind of rhetoric intolerant,” said Omar Qayum, a Muslim math teacher at Agincourt Collegiate.
For the past five years, he says, he’s been taking time on Fridays to pray with his students and there have been no problems.
“We have a Catholic school system. It is publicly funded. My tax dollars go to Catholic schools. I don’t have a problem so long as other religious groups have that same right but that’s not the case . . . When they talk about gender segregation, we have Catholic schools that are all girls and all boys. It’s just that Muslims are an easy target. We are a minority. Islamophobia is an industry these days,” said Qayum.
Okay, a few points here. I will only point out a few obvious inconsistencies, especially with what Mr. Qayum said. He says that his tax dollars go to Catholic schools. Is that his choice? I know that when I voted in the municipal election I asked if I funded public or catholic education. Catholics property taxes go to Catholic schools, all others go to public schools. Then he talks about the segregation issue of separate boys and girls schools. That may be a form of segregation but it's not like the segregation shown in the pictures of the prayers in the cafeteria at Valley Park public school.
Now he says that he has no problem if other religious groups have the same rights. I heard several stories from people that said students they knew tried to have Christian prayer meetings set up during school hours like the muslims have. By the way, it's not just Valley Park that is letting muslim students out of class for Friday prayers. Some reports of investigations say that it may be 14 or more schools in the GTA alone. Anyway when the Christian students approached principles they were asked to meet a few requirements. All requirements being met the principles then put off a decision, delaying, obfuscating and so on until the end of the school year. So much for equity and religious accommodation for everyone.
Now for the statement from one of the members of the Toronto District School Board:
“We are the most diverse school board in the country and we have a duty to provide religious accommodation and that’s what we’re doing,” Spence said. “But accommodation is fluid – it’s not written in stone, so we’re going to continue to have conversations to meet the needs of our students."
I don't know about any of you people out there, but I am smelling a rat. There has been many a statement made in support of the Friday afternoon prayers, saying that other religions get the same type of concessions. From what I have been hearing though that isn't the case.
I am just covering this a little late to the game. Be sure to check out Blazing Cat Fur who investigated and broke this story wide open. There is plenty more to come on this subject, and probably more protests as well.