A coalition of Muslim associations is addressing the court to revoke the ban on setting up prayer rooms in schools decreed by the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville.
Adopted barely a month ago, the minister’s directive contravenes other government laws, in addition to violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they say in their proceedings filed in Superior Court on Wednesday.
“The pith and substance of this measure is a complete ban on all forms of prayer whatsoever in public schools,” the plaintiffs argue in their lawsuit.
This coalition brings together the Muslim Association of Canada, the Forum of Canadian Muslims, the Muslim Community Center of Montreal, the Muslim Association of North America in Laval, the Muslim Cultural Center of Montreal Inc. and the Islamic Community Center of Brossard.
On April 19, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, had officially ordered all school service centers to prohibit the installation of rooms intended for prayer in the classrooms.
This gesture followed the publication of several reports about secondary schools in Laval, among others, which had set up rooms of meditation in classrooms, while groups of students prayed in inappropriate places, such as the cages of staircase or parking lots.
In a directive adopted by the Council of Ministers, Bernard Drainville stated that “no place” in a school should be used for prayer.
The directive, which appeared in the Official Gazette, also claimed that it was necessary “in order to preserve the secular character of the school” and was intended that school service centers ensure “that no place is used, in fact and in appearance, for the purpose of religious practices such as manifest prayers or other similar practices”.
However, this wording would be “erroneous”, pleads the coalition, since this measure goes against laws already adopted by Quebec, including the Act to promote respect for the religious neutrality of the State which provides for the possibility of reasonable accommodation. .
Moreover, the Law on the Secularism of the State, adopted by the Legault government itself, creates specific prohibitions that apply to civil servants, but not “specifically at the level of the citizens who are the students here”, adds -your.
Also, “since it is a complete ban on all forms of prayer and since prayer is an essential component of Muslim religious practice, this ban discriminates against one group of individuals to the detriment of other groups”, may -we read in the document.
This is why the coalition is calling for the revocation of the directive and a judgment on the legal interpretation of secularism and the religious neutrality of the State so that these notions are no longer “interpreted as being able to allow a complete and absolute prohibition of religious practices. nuns in any public place”.
Called to react, the minister’s office said Wednesday that it will not comment given the judicialization of the case.