Montreal — Muslim students at McGill University say they've been forced to perform their daily prayers in hallways, in stairwells, even on the increasingly damp and snowy lawn of the main downtown campus. Now, they say, they want to come in from the cold.
In the latest chapter of a long-simmering feud with McGill, a group of Muslim students filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission that alleges the university is violating their rights by failing to provide them with prayer space.
The dispute tests the limits of religious accommodation at one of Canada's best-known and diverse universities, which insists its mission is secular. And it marks the second human-rights complaint by Muslim students demanding a dedicated prayer space at a university in Quebec.
“This is an issue of basic human rights and human dignity, and believe me there is no dignity in having to pray in a dirty hallway,” said Sarah Elgazzar, a former McGill student and spokeswoman for the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations, which participated in yesterday's complaint.