Clarion Project, March 5, 2017:
A school board in Canada shut down a public question and answer session, rather than give an answer about hate speech in schools during Islamic prayers in Arabic.
Journalist Kevin Johnston attempted to ask the following question to Peel District School Board Chair Janet McDougald:
“When you vote to allow Islamic Prayer in public schools, will you record all sermons that are offered in Arabic so we can analyze them later to ensure there is no hate speech being offered?”
Rather than answer the question she elected to call Mr. Johnston a racist and end the session early. The audience at the event took the side of Mr Johnston and the situation became heated.
Johnston delivered a lengthy speech denouncing, in colorful language, the school board for perceived betrayal of Canada. The sound technician at the meeting began blasting classical music in an effort to drown him out.
Controversy over Muslim prayer has dogged the Peel District School Board for some time. In January, a meeting saw hecklers denouncing Islam, with one forced to leave by security. At a previous meeting in February, Johnston handed out flyers in which he called for the Quran to be banned as hate literature and for the removal of all religion from public schools.
Clarion Project works with Muslim human rights activists and condemns anti-Muslim bigotry as distinct from criticism of extremism.
In September 2016, the school board introduced a rules change restricting Muslim students to only hearing six pre-approved sermons, developed in cooperation with education officials. Following objections from the Muslim community, that change was dropped at a meeting in November. The previous system was restored allowing any sermon approved by an administrator.
Recently, mosques in Canada were uncovered using Arabic sermons to preach hate. A complaint was filed against the Masjid Toronto mosque in which the preacher said, among other things “O Allah! Destroy anyone who killed Muslims, O Allah! Destroy anyone who displaced the sons of the Muslims, O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them, O Allah! Purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.”
Another mosque, in Montreal, drew criticism after a video from 2014 surfaced in which the preacher declared “destroy the accursed Jews,” and “kill them one by one.”
Watch the clip of Kevin Johnston attempting to ask his question.