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Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association Applauds Decision of Toronto District School Board

TORONTO, July 15, 2011 /CNW/ -

The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA) applauds the decision of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to permit private prayer for one half-hour each week in a designated space at Valley Park Middle School.

This sign of tolerance and respect allows students of the Muslim faith to avoid having to leave school premises to attend the once weekly congregational prayer, which is an essential part of the Islamic faith, and ensures that they can return to class safely and in a timely fashion.

Said Ms. Yusra Siddiquee, Chair of the CMLA: "I am proud to live in a country where we accommodate and respect the cultural and religious needs of various diverse communities within a public school system, so that all children can learn together."

The TDSB is not involved in the prayer service, and students participate voluntarily and with parental consent. The accommodation was requested by the local community, and has been ongoing for three years without complaint.

The TDSB's decision is consistent with provincial and federal human rights laws, which oblige service providers, including public schools, to accommodate religious needs. It furthers the aims of the Education Act by maximizing instruction time for its students. The TDSB's decision upholds the Charter of Rights of Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion for all Canadians. We believe that the TDSB has struck a helpful balance that is in line with the legal obligations of the TDSB, but also furthers the values of tolerance, respect and fairness that Canadians proudly uphold.

The TDSB adopted a community-based approach in fulfilling its legal and ethical obligations, and worked with parents and members of the Valley Park neighbourhood to achieve a solution that accommodates the needs of over 300 students. Organizations across faith lines have come forward to support the prayer accommodations at Valley Park Middle School.

The CMLA applauds the TDSB's commitment to ensuring that the religious needs of all faith groups are respected and accommodated, without imposition or detriment to others.

Endorsed By:

Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association

Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations

Canadian Council of Imams

Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians

Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association

Hindu Canadian Alliance

Islamic Circle of North America - Canada

Islamic Foundation of Toronto

Islamic Institute of Toronto

Islamic Society of Markham

Islamic Society of North America - Canada

Islamic Society of Toronto

Islamic Society of Peel

Masjid Darul Iman

Muslim Association of Canada

The Mathabah Foundation

Sri Lankan Islamic Foundation of Ontario

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