Hindus protest Muslim prayers at public school 283
BY TOM GODFREY ,TORONTO SUN
FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, JULY 4, 2011 4:32:04 EDT PM
Valley Park Middle School on Overlea Blvd., the site of a controversial Muslim prayer service. (VERONICA HENRI/Toronto Sun)
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TORONTO - Hindus from across Toronto plan to protest outside a North York middle school until a controversial Friday prayer session for 400 Muslim students is stopped.
The Canadian Hindu Advocacy is one of a number of Toronto-area groups who are opposed to the 30- to 40-minute services that occurred in the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School on Overlea Blvd. from November to March.
An imam from a local mosque is brought to school to head the service, officials said. During the service male students are made to sit in front of the girls.
“This is alarming and unacceptable,” said Advocacy director Ron Banerjee. “We respect the separation of church and state.”
He said his group will be sending letters of protest to the Toronto District School Board in the next few days and calling for an end of the noon-time services. That will be followed by protests in November, when the services resume, if the prayers are to continue next school year.
“There’s not supposed to be any religious classes taking place in public schools,” Banerjee said. “We will be asking the board to stop the practice.”
He said school officials stopped students from reciting the Lord’s Prayers years ago and his group will picket the Muslim classes if the practice isn’t stopped.
“Our organization has received many complaints from Hindu students and parents in the Valley Park Middle School region,” Banerjee said.
He said his group would like to begin a discussion with TDSB authorities aimed at restoring secular education within the school system.
“We would also like to discuss the serving of halal meat within TDSB schools,” he said. “Our organization is determined to ensure all Hindu students are provided non-halal meat alternatives.”