Montreal, Quebec, Jan. 17th, 2007- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) vehemently condemns the recent attack on École Les Jeunes Musulmans Canadiens, a Montreal area Muslim school. Vandals attacked the school early Tuesday morning, smashing and breaking windows and doors and ransacking a school bus.
“It is alarming to see such heinous attacks on religiously identified educational institutions,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “We must preserve our schools as places of security and safety for children; no one should live in such fear and apprehension.”
MCM invites local politicians to visit the school and meet with the school staff and students. MCM principally calls on the Minister of Immigration and Minister of Public Security to extend their help to the school, to guarantee the incident is vigorously investigated and ensure that greater protection is given to religious institutes, especially schools.
MCM notes that it is not the first time the school has been the target of vandalism. School officials have reported six incidents of vandalism or bomb threats over the past two years. Other religious educational institutions have also been attacked in the past year, including a Jewish school in Montreal and Islamic school in Ottawa.
MCM further expressed concern over the timing of the attack, which came in the midst of a media debate about “reasonable accommodation” for religious minorities in Quebec and soon after a survey conducted by Leger Marketing suggesting that almost 60% of Quebecois consider themselves racist to some degree.
“Quebec is a great province and all members of our society must come together to protect it from any racists who sow seeds of fear, mistrust and racism. Instead of our media outlets being used to fuel racist thoughts and ideas, it must serve as a tool to combat these ills. Together we must all unite and work to foster a nation of tolerance, respect and understanding.”
MCM calls for harsher penalties and zero-tolerance for all hate crimes and religious discrimination. MCM calls on the Montreal police department to investigate this attack as a hate crime and move swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Canadians can no longer afford to stay silent as hate crimes and atrocious crimes continue to be committed,” Elmenyawi said. “In addition to strengthening the application of current laws, new policies and laws are needed, in order to effectively fight hate, racism and discrimination within our society.”
About 500 students between the ages of 4 and 16 attend École Les Jeunes Musulmans Canadiens, which is located in St-Laurent.