Man Tears up Quran at Recent School Board Meeting in Mississauga

If there’s one thing that can be said about the recent debates over Muslim prayers in Peel public schools, it’s that the conversations have often devolved into unbelievably uncivil and prejudiced fiascos.

Recently, a video surfaced of a raucous and hysterical Peel District School Board (PDSB) meeting that showed a man tearing pages out of the Quran and another man shouting “Islam is rape” and “Islam will kill you, Islam will slit your throat.”

You can see that video, courtesy of AJ+, below.

Anti-Islam Hate at School Board Meeting

A man tore up a Quran and yelled hate speech at a school board meeting.

Posted by AJ+ on Saturday, March 25, 2017

You can also read a detailed rundown of the entire meeting, courtesy of Vice Canada, here.

According to Vice, a group of parents converged upon the meeting to continue to express their outrage at the board for allowing Muslim students to say their own prayers during prayer times on Fridays. This debate has been going on for weeks, even though the school board and the mayor of Brampton have gone to great lengths to point out that religious accommodation is nothing new.

In fact, the PDSB recently addressed what it calls “religious accommodation misinformation” with a fact sheet.

In recent weeks, we have seen a concerted effort to share deliberate misinformation to counter a known legal requirement to provide religious accommodation for all faiths. That is not acceptable,” said Janet McDougald, chair of the Peel board, in a statement. “We take our legal obligations seriously, as we do our board commitment to inclusion. Board trustees and staff have invested significant time listening to the issues raised and responding to public questions and concerns. From this point on, our Key Facts stands as our response.”

The key facts that the board is highlighting include:

  • There is a legal requirement for all school boards in Ontario to provide religious accommodation.
  • Trustees have heard and continue to listen to the public regarding religious accommodation.
  • Religion does have a place in secular schools, if accommodations are requested.
  • Friday Prayer does not negatively impact student learning.
  • There is no cost or undue hardship in providing accommodation for Friday Prayer.

While both the board and Peel leaders have been firm about the fact that the policy is nothing new, they’ve also touched on the fact that the protest isn’t likely about religion not having a place in public schools. While many people have chosen to frame their argument as a secular one (“religion has no place in a public school”), the crux of the issue isn’t (and was never) prayer—it’s Islam.

According to the Vice article, meeting attendees who gathered to demand a response to their anti-prayer petition screamed that Islam killed people that week (in reference to the murders in Britain) and began making retching noises when unrelated topics (such as retirement) were brought up. There was heavy security and police presence at the event and multiple people were told to either settle down or leave.

Then, of course, someone decided to tear up the Quran.

Someone else then walked on the pages.

Those aren’t the actions of people concerned with prayers of any kind in secular schools.

We want the public to understand the facts of this issue—not the opinions of some who say they are opposed to religion in public schools, but really are opposed to the practices of a single faith,” said McDougald. “We are appalled by the anti-Muslim rhetoric and prejudice we have seen on social media, read in emails, and heard first-hand at our board meetings. It has caused some of our students to feel unsafe, to feel targeted. We must not allow hatred toward any faith group to flourish. We will not stand for that. It is not consistent with our board values, with our role as trustees, or for us as Canadians.”

While the board’s decision to allow students to say their own prayers at school is a logical one that’s far from unprecedented, there’s no doubt that the debate will continue. There’s also little doubt that the hysteria and inflammatory rhetoric will continue (at least for now).

Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail as people get used to the idea and focus their rage elsewhere.

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