By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Ont. (AA): A school board spokesman on Friday told Anadolu Agency he is “deeply shocked and saddened” after a school board meeting degenerated into a hate-filled session in which protesters tore pages from the Qur’an.
Angry parents gave Peel District School Board representatives a petition with 600 signatures by those who want to end the tradition of Muslim students gathering for 15 minutes for Jum’ah prayers each Friday.
The meeting Wednesday deteriorated into shouts with one man yelling, “Islam will kill you”, after board members, who must accommodate the prayers under the Ontario Human Rights Code, refused to address the issue, the Huffington Post reported.
Some present at the meeting tore pages from the Quran and then walked over the pages strewn on the floor.
Police intervened and approximately 80 protesters were escorted out as the meeting continued behind closed doors.
“We were deeply shocked and saddened by the expression of anti-Muslim hatred,” school board spokesman Brian Woodland said in an email. “It does not reflect our values as a board. We plan to continue to follow the law and offer religious accommodation including Friday prayer.”
The school board has dozens of schools and more than 103,000 students under its authority in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto.
Board chair Janet McDougald said some individuals have spread the idea the board does not have to allow prayers under the rights code, but that is wrong.
“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,” she said in a statement on the board’s website. “That is not acceptable. The future of this country is in making all feel safe and included.”
[Map of Canada. By E Pluribus Anthony/Public Domain]