Montreal Muslims and their well-wishers are called upon to support Muslim students' fundamental Human Rights under Canadian, Quebec and International law to offer their prayers and freely practice their faith without harassment at the Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS). (http://www.etsmtl.ca)
Ecole de Technologie Superieure is a Montreal area educational institution affiliated with the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). At this school, Muslims represent approximately 20% of the student population. But in spite of this fact, they were always forced to offer their religiously mandated prayers in the stairways. But recently, however, even this simple right has been denied them by the school's administration and they are now facing constant harassment from the school's security agents when they perform their prayers. Now the administration is threatening to "stop them by force" if they continue praying on campus. They are also prohibited from performing wudu (washing in preparation for prayer) in the school bathrooms. In addition, the school's administration is also outright refusing to give the Muslim students a prayer room on campus despite the fact that the school has a gym, a bar and even a smoking room so that students have all their "needs" met inside the campus; while Muslim needs, by contrast, are systematically ignored and denied their legitimate request for a prayer space.
You are urged to contact Ecole de Technologie Superieure and to demand that they immediately cease this blatant act of discrimination against Muslims, and accommodate them in their absolute human / legal right and religious obligation to pray while on campus. By law, school and work places in Canada have a legal obligation placed on them to accommodate various faith groups if the group's request is reasonable and does not create undue hardship on the school or employers.
Robert Nelson, Directeur de l'administration
Tel: 514-396-8820 E-mail: email@example.com
Pierre Dufault, Directeur de service d' équipement
Tel: 514-396-8817 E-mail: Pierre.firstname.lastname@example.org
Yves Beauchamp, Director general:
Tel. (514) 396-8802 E-mail: email@example.com
In your correspondence please cc:firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some brief talking points. Please always be FIRM BUT POLITE:
- Muslims are also students and they have special needs that need to be accommodated. Neglecting this demonstrates a strong disregard for these needs.
- Telling Muslims they cannot pray on campus is in fact signaling them out for special discrimination. They are especially vulnerable as they are visible minorities and the campus could in this case be seen as being racist.
- Not allowing Muslims the right to pray on campus is basically telling them they are not welcome at all as Muslim have no choice in this matter and must perform their obligations within specified times throughout the day.
- It is also bad for community relations for the school to prohibit Muslims to pray on campus, and in the long-run a bad business decision.
- For years now most universities in Canada already have prayer space for Muslims. Thus, Ecole de Technologie Superieure is actually behind the times.
Here are some points, from a LEGAL PERSPECTIVE, which emphasize the school's obligation to accommodate the Muslim students:
Here is what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- freedom of conscience and religion;
- freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Canada is also a signatory to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says:
Article 2 - Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 18 - Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Québec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
Every person is the possessor of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.
Relevant Web Sites
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:http://www.laurentia.com/ccrf/
Québec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms:http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/home.asp?noeud1=0&noeud2=0&cle=0
U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights:http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html