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CAIR-CAN: McGill U Asked to Respect Ruling on Muslim Prayer Accommodation

(OTTAWA, CANADA ­ 22/03/06) ­ The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) is calling on McGill University to respect today’s decision by the Quebec Human Rights Commission (SEE: http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/home.asp) which ordered another Quebec university to respect the basic human rights of Muslim students by accommodating their prayer requirements. McGill University has refused to provide adequate prayer accommodations.

CAIR-CAN filed a human rights complaint against McGill on behalf of Muslim students in December 2005 for failing to provide religious accommodation, such as a multifaith or separate prayer space.

“We welcome today’s decision by the Commission, which reaffirms that educational institutions must respect Quebec’s Charter of human rights and freedoms, and guarantee religious accommodation for Muslim students,” says Riad Saloojee, CAIR-CAN’s executive director. “We call on McGill University to implement today’s decision and move immediately to accommodate the needs of its students.”

Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN’s spokesperson, says Muslim students at McGill are likely to be reassured by today’s decision. “McGill University has a responsibility to allow its students to practice their religion with dignity,” says Elgazzar, a former McGill student who was forced to pray in dirty hallways after the university evicted the students from their prayer room.

For more information about the complaint against McGill, which is still pending, please see: http://www.caircan.ca/itn_more.php?id=A2159_0_2_0_M

Today’s decision by the Commission was rendered in relation to the situation at the École de technologie supérieure. The Commission stated that the university’s claims to being a secular institution ­ a defence also used by McGill University ­ does not absolve the school from its duty to accommodate the religious practices of its students.

École de technologie supérieure had confiscated its Muslim students’ prayer mats and claimed, like McGill University, that students could use empty areas, such as hallways, empty classrooms or stairwells to perform their prayers. The Commission found this did not meet the duty to accommodate students’ rights to practice their religion “in conditions that respect their right to the safeguard of their dignity.”

For more information, please contact Sarah Elgazzar at 514-776-6566 or Halima Mautbur at 613-795-2012.

 

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