Opposing prayer in Toronto public schools, with dignity

How bad bedfellows have clouded the case against the “Mosqueteria”


AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

A Toronto public school has caused enormous controversy in the press this month for its makeshift Muslim congregation. For the past three years, every Friday afternoon during the darker months, nearly 400 Muslim students at Valley Park Middle School, have—under the auspices of the Toronto District School Board’s Religious Accommodation policy—prostrated themselves on the cafeteria floor facing Mecca, and made their afternoon prayers as the sun set over the school (those lamenting the separation of church and state can thank Canadian winters for their reunion). The school’s faculty implemented the imam-led sessions when they noticed large numbers of students were signing themselves out of class after lunch on Friday to attend Mosque, and several weren’t coming back. It seemed an easy fix: eliminate a liability with a seemingly workable accommodation. Unfortunately it didn’t work: The girls prayed behind the boys to maintain “modesty” and menstruating girls sat lazily up-right at the back—excused from prayer until their “cleanliness” returned to them.

People are angry and I understand why: Organized prayer doesn’t belong in school, religious accommodation shouldn’t accommodate sexism, and tolerance should never tolerate intolerance. The Toronto District School Board does all of its students—Muslim and non-Muslim—a great disservice by compromising one policy (gender equity) in favour of another (religious accommodation). But lately something has complicated my indignation: An old bearded man—of any religious stripe—relegating 13-year-old menstruating girls to the back of the room is highly unsavoury, but so is Ezra Levant donning a burka on national television to show solidarity with oppressed Muslim women. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly clear that some of the most strident opponents of the cafeteria congregation are as morally deficient as the congregation system itself.

But most Canadian publications haven’t noticed. Take the Canadian Hindu Advocacy, an interest group that’s been Valley Park Middle School’s most passionate opponent. Nearly every newspaper article on the topic, from those in the Toronto Star to the Toronto Sun, has called The Canadian Hindu Advocacy a mere “critic of Islam”. Closer investigation, though, (or any at all) makes clear that the CHA is no critic, but one, a vehemently anti-Islamic organization; and two, despite its name, an embarrassment to Canadian pluralism. Go on the group’s website and you’ll see, under “Our Activities”, items that provide a quick snapshot of the CHA’s truly charming take on minority rights: “CHA speaks at Jewish discussion of Geert Wilders” (Wilders, of course, is the inflammatory Dutch politician famous for comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf); “CHA exposes The Sham of Tarek Fatah” (Fatah, a fiercely secular Muslim writer and broadcaster in Toronto, is in favour of gay rights, a strict division between church and state, and a progressive form of Islam); and “CHA published op-ed, ‘Slam the doors on Immigration’” (acceptable advice, apparently, now that the CHA has slipped through the doors). The group’s leader, Ron Banerjee, has been quoted to the effect that: “In its entire history, Islam, the Islamic civilization, has invented and contributed less to human advancement than a pack of donkeys.” Just this past month Banerjee debated Toronto imam Steve Rockwell on the John Oakley radio show, where he spent more time belittling Muslims than he did championing secularism. “The PEW (Research Center) did a study” he told Rockwell, “and in each and every case the situation is the same. The Hindu community and the Jewish community have higher than average education and incomes, and the Muslim community rank at the very bottom…Numbers don’t lie”. Unfortunately Banerjee’s numbers haven’t yet managed to remove organized prayer from public schools; his alleged mission.

Ordinarily Banerjee wouldn’t bother me that much. He is small samosas, and he’s done a fine job so far marginalizing himself. But by joining the campaign against organized prayer in school, he and his organization have clouded what should be a crystal-clear, trans-ethnic argument about a fundamental ingredient in democracies. The CHA is now promising to protest in front of Valley Park Middle School if prayer congregations continue in the fall. And frankly, we shouldn’t let them. If we’re going to hold the school board accountable for allowing prayer in school, then we should hold the CHA equally accountable for disrupting school—and making Muslim kids feel bad about themselves. Banerjee says his biggest qualm about the “Mosqueteria”—as many right-wing bloggers have dubbed it—is that prayer interferes with the students’ education. Last time I checked, however, politically fuelled protests and mega phones do too.

Ron Banerjee should take a page out of Raheel Raza’s book—a moderate Muslim activist and author, who argues that whatever is done should be done with “respect and dignity, because this is not about bashing another faith, and children are not responsible for what their elders have put them into”. Raza doesn’t believe prayer belongs in school, but she has an interesting idea about why it’s there. “I call this the Liberal white guilt complex,” she says, “where they [the TDSB] think they are being accommodating when all they are doing is adding to the problem”. According to Raza, the gender segregation and Imam present in the Valley Park service is not a universal representation of true Islam. Yet what Tarek Fatah calls “the racism of lower expectations” prevails, and school board officials blithely assume the worst about a religion they’re too afraid to question. “They are making a mockery of my faith,” Raza argues. “The Koran says there is no compulsion in prayer.”

But there is compulsion at Valley Park Middle School. “What about the students who don’t want to pray?” Raheel Raza asks. “Can you imagine the pressure on them?” Considering the prayers are monitored by members of the community—parents included—such pressure is almost guaranteed. So while the TDSB has given kids the right to pray, it’s inadvertently stripped them of the right to pass. And that is infinitely more important. It’s also precisely the kind of principle that the Ron Banerjees of this world are indifferent to. The end may justify the means sometimes; but in this case, doing the right thing for the wrong reason would be a bitter kind of victory.

Read Ron Banerjee’s response to this article


Opposing prayer in Toronto public schools, with dignity

  1. Here’s a link to a video of the protest at The Toronto District School Board headquarters


  2. What a pity it’s taken all these years, and the current fashionable hatee to get religion out of our schools.

  3. Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children.  Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.
    The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to “opt out” from the Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
     There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries.  Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.
    None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.  A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.

    • State funded Muslim schools? I don’t think so. They have many of those in the Middle East and I DO NOT want them HERE, and I especially DO NOT want to pay for them. Would you be just as supportive of state funded Jewish schools? I don’t think so.

      You are right about “you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim”, and if you are not then your are an infidel, and we know what your Koran says about infidels.

      If Muslims find it so “bad” here, then I suggest an airplane ride back to the Middle East might solve their woes.


      • First of all, the public should not be funding any religious groups, because that’s just asking for trouble. We still fund Catholic schools, which a lot of people are trying to fight congress about because of all the disaster in this multi-cultural, multi-religious, or non-religious society we live in today. The rule for funding Catholic school no longer applied today, the public is too diversity and free, in sexuality, gender, race, religion, class, and etc.

        One thing that upset me is when we forget that these Muslims are also Canadians, and some of them have been around probably longer than your parents and are not all from the Middle East. 

        Not all people leave their country because of religious reasons, some leave because of economic, political, social factors, and we always assume that the Muslim people move because they are unhappy about being Muslim only to come to Canada to practice such religion. That should tell us something. 

        Muslim is not a race or ethnicity, it is a religion, and I think people forget that (that’s religious Muslims included as well). When we make that distinguished, I think we can start moving forward to solving all of these nonsenses that come out of religious accommodations supported by public funds. 


      • What if the Muslim is born in Canada?  
        Would you tell me to go back to Europe if the issue was state funded Catholic schools?    TIM

    • “There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim
      pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out
      to become Muslim Academies.”

      – so you are saying that we should force the non muslim minority to be taught in a state funded Muslim school? I think not.

      “This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim
      schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less
      likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young
      people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s
      teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and
      fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim
      parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values.
      Children like discipline, structure and boundaries.”

      – about the only thing I believe in this statement is that children like discipline, structure and boundaries.

      Many studies have shown that children perform better in same sex situations. That has nothing to do with religion.

      Basically, if you want to start a school, teach and have the children pass the required curriculum, and teach islam – feel free to do it. Don’t, however, start converting existing schools. The school system should not be used to make converts. I might be showing a bit of bias here, but it appears obvious to anyone with eyes that the world could use less Islam – not more. (but I in no way think anything should be done via violence. Just that it should not be supported.)

      • You know what! The way that you’ll get everyone happy is to give the Muslims their privacy. God propaganda is all over Muslims and all about them! Leave them be will you! Why not just give them a room they can use in their lunch time at school, and only during lunch time where they can pray in during the winter and Fridays for Friday prayer where they would be happy on there own doing their prayers without bothering anybody and NOT BEING BOTHERED… that way us non-Muslims wouldn’t be bothered by them either! Then they could do extra curricular activities by going to a Islamic Sunday/Saturday school, or even an Islamic private school where they can be taught about their religion! I swear its NOT that hard! God!

    • Don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church/mosque/synagogue.  ok?

      • How are they bothering you? What is it to you huh? Nobody wanted you to think in their church or mosque or synagogue in the first place, bro u just gotta chill!

    • Yikes!!!  Are you serious??   If so, suggest you pack your bags and return to Pakistan and your madrassas.   That’s what Maha Khadr did, you know, to keep her kids safe from all those homosexuals and drug addicts.
      Public funds to promote Islamism is schools???  Dream on Iftikhar Ahmad – get your head out of the 3rd century and get over this male/female thingy.  Canadian women moved from “chattel” to “person” category a 100 years ago.

    • Did you ever heard of a Sunday school? That is what should have happened.

    • Wow, a glimpse inside the mind of an islamist.  Guess what’s not going to happen …  Not a chance, not now, not ever.
      Your imagined ‘rights’ for ‘state funded’ schools that meet the ‘demands’ of muslim parents … Thanks for the heads up Iffy ..

    • Segregating students who are being brought up under their parents religion helps them in a mixed society? Why do “Muslim students” need an entire school system just to function in society? What is is about the Islamic ideology that requires such a drastic measure just to produce an outcome that every other type of student is able to achieve in a mixed public school? Your reasoning makes absolutely no sense.

    • In the attempt to reinforce the traditional moral standard, christian families across Canada
      have been the glue that binds the fibre of our culture and school houses.  The “thin end of the wedge in the state interfering in the religious practices of the population” has prompted us to become a light in the darkness, by serving our communities, at a cost to our religious freedoms, but not at a loss.  The opertunity does not beg the question, how we can set ourselves apart in “our schools or culture,” but how can we meet individuals where “your love may abound still more in knowledge and discernment, that you may aprove the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”.  Phillippians 1:9-11  The bible calls us to be more than balanced citizens or simply tolerant of others.

    • This is what I know goes on in Ontario Canada. The only “religious” school(s) publicly funded in Ontario is the Roman Catholic School. All other faiths fund their own schools, and are to adhere to a qualified curriculum if they wish their students to progress into colleges and universities. Even non-religious private schools are held to that standard. I have no problem of supporting “faith” schools as long as all faith schools are publicly supported. The thing is they are not. They must fund their own schools, except the Roman Catholic Schools. Why does one think that Anglican, Baptist, etc. kids go to Roman Catholic Schools instead of public schools? Because only the Roman Catholic Schools are publicly funded and parents wish their children to have some sort of “Christian” influence in school.
      The Jewish citizens fund their own schools for the Jewish faith/culture and send their children to the public school for the academic education. If this is the case, then why can not those of Islam do the same as those of Judaism?
      If Muslims are allowed to have prayer time in public schools, then there should be set aside prayer rooms for other faiths as well.
      The idea of boys getting better marks because they did not have to learn with girls in the class has got to be one of the dumbest things I have heard. In Islam women are considered not to be as smart as men. I went to school here in Ontario, graduated with honours and so did the majority of the girls. If the male or female students cannot control his/her own learning that is his/her fault.
      Any child’s culture and faith beliefs should be taught at their home, faith/culture learning centres. The fact that some of the Muslim students were not returning back to school after Mosque prayer time is the students fault as well as the adults who were with them at the Mosque. If the children are considered old and responsible enough to go to prayers, then they should be held accountable to return to their school/classes.
      When I was practicing Roman Catholicism we had to go to mass in the morning and had to go to school right after. As a student we were held responsible by both the church and schools to arrive at school/classes.
      Sorry!!!! But we have become to laxydazie with our youth, no matter what faith walk, in instilling this act of responsibility.

  4. I guess all the reasonable op-eds published by the Canadian Hindu Advocacy in places like the National Post, Financial Post, and Toronto Sun don’t rate a mention? The reason ‘most media have not noticed’ .. is probably because then they’d have to ‘notice’ how much opinion space they themselves have given to this group for the last few years.



    This author obviously has an agenda of some sort…CHA has been around for awhile and if you look at their website canhindu.com and click on MEDIA you will see approxinmatelty 80 op-eds and letters to editor in all the largest Canadian newspapers .. published in the last few years.

    Like it or not, they are respectable and mainstream in that community.

    • I liked Ron Banerjee’s comment in the interview when he said Hindus have many more religious days than what Canada has as statutory holidays, but they work around this as they respect the established rules.

      • Ralph Bannerjee has come across as reasoned and informed about the issue of Muslim school prayer in schools. I commend him for his words. 

  5. I am appalled that the school board has allowed this to happen. This is completely wrong. All those who made this decision should be fired.

    Why is it that Muslims all of a sudden have more rights?

    • because the extremists hurt the people who disagree with them

      • They are not extremists, if they’re just praying on a Friday. Its just once a week, and the imam is most likely controlled by the school. There is not way that will garner extremism. In this case no one disagreed with anyone, because the Muslim students did not ask for anything. And most Muslims will not “hurt people” if u disagree with them.

  6. Authorities concerned of this Canadian public school by opening a Pandora’s box, allowing a makeshift Muslim prayer congregation within the school premises during school hour, were / are dangerously wrong. Period.

    Malek Muhammad Towghi (Baluch), Ph.D.
    East Lansing, Michigan, USA

  7. In my opinion it’s secular education, secular law and secular society at large that has allowed so many people of different backgrounds to co-exist in Canada so successfully.

    I am all for weekend schools for the religious, but frankly I don’t support it in lieu of secular education because that’s one of the few places where children are not only taught how to get along with one another, but where they can actually gain real life experience interacting and coming together.

    I consider religious schools a dangerous form of segregation, whether self-imposed or not, and that can’t lead anywhere good in my opinion.


    * According to Islam, the  daily 5-time

    (1. FAJR:just before dawn;
    2. ZUHR: just afternoon;
    3. ‘ASR: late afternoon;
    4. MAGHRIB: just after sunset;
    5:’ASHAA / ‘ISHAA: about 90 minutes after sun-set) 

    prayers are equally MUST-DO (FARD/FARZ) obligations. The Friday afternoon prayer is just one of these 35 must-do prayers of the week.

    *What if the Muslim students and their parents demand the same arrangements and facilities in the public school for, e.g., the DAILY zuhr and ‘asr prayers?

    ** What if the Sunnis, Shi’ahs, the Sunni-Shia sub-sectcts, Ahmadis and … and … and …. demand separate prayer arrangements in the public school?

    *** What will be the basis of not allowing the hundreds of other religious and anti-religion faith groups the same arrangement and facilities in the public school?

    Malek Muhammad Towghi (Baluch), Ph.D.
    East Lansing, Michigan, USA

  9. Better to sacrifice basic human dignity than to find yourself on the same side as that awful, icky Ezra Levant, eh, Emma?

  10. Accommodating prayers in a secular public school is a hardship. It is not reasonable accommodation. It is a hardship for the teachers who have to rearrange teaching blocks, re-explain material, and shift testing around. It is a hardship for students who 1) are compelled by teachers to pray as per their parents request, and 2) have to rearrange their learning schedule and their secular activities for the sake of other religious groups. I cannot even believe that Canada is having this conversation in 2011. What is happening to our country????

    • Did anyone happen to notice the stage in the “cafeteria” picture taken by the Toronto Star? I have news for anyone who defends these prayers. On Friday afternoons, that room is now off limits to the drama teacher, the music teacher, or any other teacher wanting to practice a performance that is REQUIRED as part of the Ontario curriculum. School space is a precious commodity. There is no such thing as “unused” and “free space” in a public school during school hours. Anyone who actually works in a public school will tell you this. 

      • It would be nice if a mosque wanting high-schools students to attend offered a slightly later Friday service to accommodate school hours.

        • I agree, Monado. The TDSB and all these silly human rights leftists are forgetting that schools usually lets out around 3:30. That’s still a lot of time left on Friday afternoon. Even an imam being interviewed said there were some hours of flexibility. But nope, said the imam. Everyone else has to bend to the fundamentalist Muslims! 

  11. My problem with all this is the rights of the rest of us. Numerous times children who do not attend parochial schools cannot pray anywhere in peace – in the cafeteria etc – so where is the justice in this? As a Christian we have seen our right to pray taken out of the schools totally and now the muslims are allowed to. So unfair to the rest of us. I also agree that the separation of men and women does not seem right but it is their faith not mine.

  12. Emma, your labelling of both muslim misogyny and Ezra wearing a burka as ‘morally deficient’ is rediculous.  As for Ezra, he can take care of himself, and doesn’t need me to defend him. 
    You offend me with your comparison, it’s the typical moral equivalence that journalista’s think is appropriate when apologizing for islam.  You can do a better job than this.

  13. Muslims keep pushing the envelope ,and supine politicians allow them to get away with it. NO religion of any stripe in public schools. Those who want their children educated in a religious school should pay the full dollar with NO tax support in a private school.

  14. What I don’t understand is the need to oppose peaceful prayers by Muslims in the first place? Are the Muslims harassing anyone? Are they costing the taxpayers even a single cent?

    As a Muslim I went through the Canadian high school system, and we had Friday prayers in school. We didn’t bother anyone and no one bothered us. We let others live and they let us live. Isn’t this how it should happen in a democracy?

  15. too bad most media outlets and a whole bunch of politicians have fallen for the nonsense that Banerjee actually leads an organization. it’s just him and a few friends, emphasis on the ‘few’. the rest of it is purely imaginary. that’s right, the ungrammatically-named Canadian Hindu Advocacy is a SCAM which has fooled many not willing to do their homework.

    Ron’s hatred of muslims, sikhs, christians, gays and blacks (i’ve got 100+ emails from him to prove it) knows no bounds. he likes to brag about how many letters he’s published, and it is a lot, that’s true, but all it really shows is the demented depths of his bigotry and hatred which is so strong that it borders on mental illness.

    and like so many ultra right wing neon-cons, Ron has a second secret life – starts with P ends with N and rhymes with corn, yes indeed, he acts in films of this ilk, and not just any kind, but really whacky fringe ones. he even got fired from one fetish site because the women working there actually complained about his weirdness. must have been painful to lose a gig where he got paid to lick women’s high heel shoes. and yes, i can prove what i say about his other life.

  16. @Iftikhar Ahmad – If you Muslims are so concerned about your language, culture, religion and “cultural identity,” then what the hell are you doing in my country? 

    • your an ignorant idiot. unless your native american this is NOT your country.

  17. @Timj1001 – “What if the Muslim is born in Canad?”

    Then I expect him/her to be Canadian. If that is too much trouble, then go back to the country of your parents.   

    • Maybe YOU should go back to YOUR parent’s country. Is Canada the country that said, “Practice your culture freely?” Then a Muslim practicing his/her faith in Canada is Canadian. (I’m defending the principle not the religion.) TIM

  18. No Muslim prayers in school!!! Canada historically is Christian country. Tolerance to other religions does not mean to give to them of our schools, of our children. Many muslims and their religion traditions creates many problems in France, USA, United Kingdom now. Muslims Gather Every Friday in the Streets of New York City to Pray and block traffic (http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/m/Muslim-Day-NYC.htm) Islamization of France (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2010/August/Islamization-of-Paris-a-Warning-to-the-West/) UK (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2096263/The-Mecca-city-In-London-street-faithful-way-pray-mosque-overflows.html) Do you want to start islamization of Canada too? Who is responsible for immigration of muslims to Canada? Who in goverment is support of islam as religion of terrorism in the modern world now?

  19. I admit I only read down half of this letter, but that’s
    because its not very accurate. Its nice to criticize those whom you may not
    understand. But when you consider the amount of Christian persecution in
    Islamic societies around the world, the murdering by beheading, the raping of
    the “Non-Muslim Women” the enslavement of the infidels (Christians
    and Jews), because they love us, as you seem to believe, I then wonder, how
    would those who Muhammad called “their enemies”, be treated. But it appeared to me that because of your lack of
    understanding about Islam, I thought, it would be better not to have read your
    work in the first place. However, seeing that I have your attention, perhaps I
    can explain something to you, to help educate you a little on this subject.
    Islam, the teachings of Islam, the god of Islam, the writings of Islam, which
    include the Quran and the Hadiths, are all evil. They teach to kill Christians
    and Jews and to hate us. We are slaves to Islam, or we will not exist. But dear
    reporter, I am a Christian, and I will never serve another god, for there is
    only one God, and that is the one I believe in. His holy name is the God of

    Those who follow the teachings of Islam follow allah the moon god or the war
    god as he is also been called.

    I want to ask you, where is the freedom for Christians in any Islamic society
    around the world today? Dose anyone think that the Islam in “Canada” is any
    different than in all those Islamic societies? You would be blind to ignore it
    and deaf not to hear the warnings.

    There is no one allowed to live if they criticize “Islamic teachings” or
    “Allah” or “Muhammad”.

    Yet, Jesus died on a cross. But that would be calling Muhammad a liar, because
    he taught that this was not true.

    What is the Islamic answer?

    Quran 9:29 Kill those who believe not in Allah.

    It also tells you that you must be brought low until you admit that there is no
    other god but allah and Muhammad his messenger.

    If you then pay the Jizya tax, you are free to live amongst
    the Muslims and follow the Sharia laws which keep you in the state of Kafir.
    Concrats, your now a slave to Islam in your own country.

    If this is how Ron Banerjees and his family are being
    treated, then perhaps you might do well to get his side of the story about
    Islamic teachings before you treat him like your enemy.

    May God open your eyes to His truth.

    Mark Harding

    Evangelists of Canada.

    • that is not the case for all muslims and actually read the Quran.

  20. I am amazed how racist another common wealth country can be. The Aust army even allows militaryg personal to pray yet your country does not let children pray. Secular does not mean intolerant. In Australia religious instruction is optional. My father made me attend Christian scripture so I would understand the culture of the land. I was the first Muslim Lt to have a beard. I will defend Australia will my life even though I don’t agree with some of our countries foreign policy. This is because all religions are respected by this country. I may not agree with another persons religious or non religious beliefs but each has true freedom to practice or not practice it, in Oz. Religion should not be the foundation for general education, eg teaching science out of the bible or even for the Quran for that matter as the two things aren’t required to understand the other. Religion is the foundation of Modern ethics, as its often our reference point even though we might not be aware of it. My Christian history teacher as a child made me proud as he would praise Saladin for his ethics and respect that he showed to all religions, even if the media may only show the worst side of Islam as it sells newspapers rest assured there and many muslims who not only bring pride to there religion but there country, Australia as far as I am concerned most strongly reflects the ethics of Islam & Christianity it is Utopia. I never once used my religion as cop out an when I was fasting I never asked to be demoted from fitness tests even in the hottest parts of Australia, I detest people who use religion for not acting like descent human beings. We should the German Jehovah witness who were the only Germans who stood side by the Jews an the Albanian Muslims sho would rather die then give up there Muslim neighbours. No disrespect to you secularist but did did any secular groups collectively try to save there Jewish neighbours.

  21. Christian children can not pray in school, why should Muslim children have the right to do so.

  22. I went to Valley Park Middle School, when I went there in 2004, none of this was there despite children still leaving for Friday prayers.

  23. Why don’t Canadian schools at least provide a room designated for students to practice their faith? TIM