On March 11th the Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) issued an action alert urging all Montreal Muslims and their well-wishers to support Muslim students' fundamental Human Rights under existing Canadian, Quebec and International law so that they can perform their prayers and freely practice their faith without harassment at the Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS). (http://www.etsmtl.ca/) here in Montreal.
You can read the full alert with the necessary background information at online here: http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net/etssalat.htm
First of all, we want to thank all those who responded to our action alert and contacted the school either by e-mail or by phone. The level of response was overwhelming and many of you ccd us in your correspondence with excellently written letters.
Unfortunately, the college has failed to respond up until now which has left us no choice than to proceed with further actions. On Thursday March 27th, the Montreal based Centre Research-Action on Race
Relations (CRARR), on behalf of MCM, filed an official complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse - (the Quebec Human Rights Commission). In the submission to the Commission, MCM has presented the following demands:
- Reasonable prayer space on campus for Muslim students wanting to offer their prayers
- The implementation of an educational and awareness program for the school's administrators concerning Islam and Muslims and how to avoid racism
- The implementation of special informational sessions and awareness programs about Islam to all ETS students with the view to countering the effects of prejudicial and racist treatment suffered by the Muslim students at the college
- Requesting damages for the amount of $5000.00 per student (about $600,000.00) as compensation for moral damages.
The Human Rights commission has accepted the complaints, visited the current prayer area, and has made it clear that we have a very strong case.
"We want to stress that we are saddened and disappointed that we have to bring this situation to an adversarial level and would have been much happier to set down with the school and work things out in a professional and more cordial manner," stated MCM President Salam Elmenyawi.
"But since the school has failed to respond to us we have no choice but to proceed with this action because the human rights of the Muslim students are being violated when they are not provided an adequate place of prayer 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," Elmenyawi further stated.
"We will pursue this case until the school respects the rights of all of its students," he said.
People are urged to continue to contact the school and demand that they accommodate Muslims in their absolute human / legal right and religious obligation to pray while on campus. The contact info can be found at:http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net/etssalat.htm