Teach Your Children Well

Compromising the Future

Teach Your Children Well

Teach Your Children Well

Children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston

Lyrics by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

Teach Your Children WellMost, if not all religions would like nothing better than to transform classrooms into centers of religious indoctrination instead of education.

Before Building the Future – A Time for Reconciliation (2008), the final report of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Difference, better known as the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Reasonable Accommodation, there was the Report of the Advisory Committee on Integration and Reasonable Accommodation in the Schools (2007) chaired by educational and intercultural relations consultant Bergman Fleury and to which I will refer to as the Fleury Committee Report.

Building the Future looked at how Québec society, as a whole, was responding to the religious and cultural distinctiveness of the latest wave of immigrants to the province, in particular the large scale immigration of Muslims from French North Africa; the Fleury Committee Report examined how the Québec school system was coping with accommodating religious and cultural differences in the classroom.

It is both a truism and a cliché that children are the future. Where that future will be shaped is in the classroom. Of the two reports, the Fleury Committee Report is the most significant as the bellwether of things to come.

The public non-denominational school system in Canada is both the strength and the Achilles’ heel of our democratic collective. The strength can be found in schools where children are still taught that the human journey is a journey in the pursuit of knowledge through scientific enquiry and critical thinking. Each generation being responsible for taking that additional step in the direction of the elusive, ultimate truth, which, if ever discovered would mean the end of the human journey as we know it.

The empirical pursuit of knowledge about our universe and our place in it, a gift from the Greeks of antiquity rediscovered during the Renaissance and the period known as the Enlightenment, is facing a serious challenge from those who believe that this journey ended long ago.

The same people who believe that the ultimate truth was discovered by a handful of bearded men more than a thousand years past; who believe that we should now simply sit back and wait for the promised rewards of a make-believe after-life for our uncritical acceptance of the revealed truth made known only to these select few men from the Shaper of the universe himself.

Champions of these self-proclaimed messengers from God, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad being the most vocal, have successfully attacked the Achilles’ heel of the public school system, it’s openness to any subject of enquiry (age being the only limiting factor).

More and more public schools in Canada are teaching children that revealed truths i.e. immutable facts communicated to a mortal by a god and discoveries made using the scientific method are equivalent even in opposition e.g. the age of the earth, creation vs. evolution...

To many Québecquers’ consternation and discomfort the province of Québec, in the 2009-10 school year, introduced a comprehensive mandatory curriculum of religious instruction in a previously all secular teaching environment. No other province had or has yet gone that far.

The quiet revolution (1960 to 1966) of Jean Lesage was characterized by the rapid and effective secularization of Québec society including the school system which, until then, had been administered by the Catholic Church. This is why it is so surprising to many that it is the province of Québec that is leading the way in allowing religion to again influence public policy in a fundamental way after saying never again.

How does the province of Québec justify this about-face?

Since the spiritual dimension occupies an important place in the lives of young people and is, indeed, a facet of individual dignity, a pluralistic school should contribute to the students’ integral development by acknowledging the religious diversity that affects this dimension.

Fleury Committee Report, p. 14.

The argument of the Fleury Committee in favour of teaching religion in the public school system is expressed in well-meaning if somewhat specious logic:

1) young people and school-age children are preoccupied with the so-called spiritual dimension,

2) religion helps define this spiritual dimension,

3) therefore religion should be taught in school.

It is not clear whether the recommendation for more accommodation of religious traditions and rituals in the public school system flowed from this logic or whether it was the demand for accommodation of religious traditions that led to the idea of teaching religion in the public school system.

The Fleury Committee believes that teaching all religion will militate against any backlash from some students getting more than their share of exceptions from the general curriculum because of their religious beliefs.

From the statistics gathered by the Fleury Committee on student enrolment by faith and the number of requests for accommodation on religious grounds we can infer that the impetus for teaching religion in school was a result of demands from a religious minority.

Requests for Accomodation

If you disregard the accommodation requests from Jehovah Witnesses which represent only .04% of the student population more than half of the requests for accommodation for religious reasons were from Muslims who represent only 1.4 percent of the student population surveyed.

Islam is not so much a religion as a way of life, with god-given rules governing every facet of the believers’ existence from how they must dress, how and when they must pray, with whom they can associate, to how they must think; rules which can not be ignored without risking an eternity in hell.

If it is impossible for Muslims to compromise on how they must live their lives without offending their god, then the public school system had to adapt if it did not want to further marginalize a growing and militant student population, who would be compelled to attend madrassas to remain in Allah’s good graces.

Teaching religion in public schools is a way of justifying exemptions to the general curriculum, not only for Islam, even though it is the main beneficiary of a policy of exceptions, but all religions may have seem like the better course of action, the lesser of two evils you might say.

Canadian society as a whole, as is made clear in Bouchard-Taylor, faces these same stark choices. It too will have to reconcile these theoretically irreconcilable value systems which pit secular rights and religious beliefs and traditions which, for the believers, are rights which supersede all other rights.

Bouchard-Taylor, like Fleury, recommends more accommodations as a way out of this impasse.

It all began with a discussion about allowing the wearing of scarves to class if it was an article of faith (no pun intended), quickly leaped to knives (kirpans), to teaching religion in what was thought to be a child’s last refuge from the constant bombardment of the word of God: the public school system.

If Québec, that formerly most secular of province has taken this step backwards and allowed religion back into the classroom as part of its new Ethics and Religious Culture program other provinces are sure to follow.

In Shooting the Messenger (Boreal Books, 2009) I wrote about my first exposure to the concept of planned evolution, now more commonly known as creationism, and that it should be taught in a public school setting so that Darwin does not get short-changed as he tends to be in denominational schools.

I still believe that students should be exposed to revealed truths of the type communicated to an alleged illiterate in dreams and what could be described as psychotic episodes in the public school system once they have reached a level of education where they have been exposed to scientific enquiry and can differentiate between a theory which requires empirical evidence and one that does not such as creationism” and not before!

To do otherwise, is to stifle a child’s imagination and curiosity before it has a chance to blossom. It is both a disservice to the child and to humanity which depends on a child’s unfettered imagination and curiosity as an adult to solve the real problems that threatened to bring the march of civilization to an end, if not humanity itself.

You will find echoes of these and other concerns in an Analysis of Jurisprudence Pertaining to Reasonable Accommodation in the School, a report-within-a-report prepared for the Fleury Committee by Université de Montréal law professor José Woehrling.

The Fleury Committee’s rosy prognosis about religious accommodation in the schools glosses over most of Université de Montréal law professor’s José Woehrling’s many caveats about the reasonableness and long term consequences of too much flexibility in the granting of exemptions from a general curriculum of study. For example:

13 … [What] about the psychological impact on the other students of the operation of a system of exemptions. Such a system appears to run counter to the objective of creating in children’s minds a sense of shared experience and belonging to a community that displays certain homogeneity despite religious and cultural differences. In other words, to make allowance for a system of exemptions and authorized absences might thwart the school’s mission to educate children with respect to tolerance and harmonious cohabitation between the members of different religious and cultural groups.

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling, p.118.

On Thursday March 2, 2006 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was unreasonable to stop children from bringing daggers to school if it was a requirement of their faith to keep such weapons on their person at all times. In doing so, it overturned a Québec Court of Appeal’s ruling that had upheld a Montréal school board’s decision not to allow children to bring knives, concealed or otherwise, into the classroom or on school property.

In making its ruling in favour of allowing children to bring concealed weapons to class, the Supreme Court of Canada answered a question it wasn’t asked.

The appeal against the Québec Court of Appeal’s decision was largely based on the freedom of conscience and religion clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada took the easy way out. It ignored the Charter challenge and based its ruling on what it concluded was the mission — the primary mission one must assume — of the public school system, that of teaching tolerance. By allowing concealed weapons into schools the Court looked to expanding the meaning of the word.

Thus, in the Multani case the Supreme Court relied on one of the missions of public schools i.e. tolerance, to establish the scope of the duty of accommodation.

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling, p. 115.

The reasonable accommodations (exemptions or special treatment based on religious beliefs and/or cultural imperatives) that the Supreme Court, Bouchard-Taylor and Fleury say Canada needs more of are, perhaps paradoxically, transforming an educational system which produced one of the most, if not the most compassionate, tolerant society on earth, into an intolerant one.

Reasonable accommodation in the schools is inevitability forcing public schools to abandon their socialization mission in favour of pandering to school children and their parents’ religious beliefs and prejudices on the false assumption that this will make a child more tolerant of another child’s contrarian values.

The Fleury Committee raises this potential threat to the socialization mission of the public school system early on in its report before proceeding to build their case for more exemptions.

There is legitimate concern over reasonable accommodation and its possible effect of marginalizing minorities. Certain critics emphasize the risk of inadequate socialization in relation to shared values. According to this perspective, it is not inclusion, shared membership in a community and exposure to the practices and culture of the majority through the schools that appear to be developed but instead the marginalization of the collective identity.

Reasonable accommodation thus seems to threaten the mission of the schools, which must socialize all students with respect to shared values and civic standards.

The accomplishment of this mission is apparently hampered by adaptations and exemptions that are perceived as failed opportunities to allow young people of diverse origins, allegiances and affiliations to interact together and engage in the same social learning.

Fleury Committee Report, p. 12

Children hearing an adult, a teacher, talk about their religion does not make them more receptive or more tolerant of other children’s beliefs. It only serves to confirm what they already know; that their religion is better than your religion; their god more omnipotent than all of your gods put together; their prophet can beat your prophets with one hand tied behind his back; their holy men as holy as they come; their revealed scriptures the real thing, yours fairy tales or worse, the devils handiwork.

Professor Woehrling on adults in positions of authority, such as teachers giving religious instructions to children:

“… the argument whereby mere exposure to certain ideas does not lead to coercion, since the individual is capable of critically judging such ideas, is undoubtedly true in the case of adults, but much less so in the case of young children. That these ideas are presented to the children in the public school inevitably makes the children think that the school approves [of] them.”

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling, p.116.

Children are not only influenced by what adults say, but also by what adults do or allow. There is no doubt in my mind that where children are concerned, the actions of adults speak as loud, if not louder, than words.

Islam with its excess of conspicuous compulsory religious rituals gets the most exceptions, and will get even more following the Supreme Court’s ruling on kirpans.

Examples: five daily prayers (Sunni) which can not be said in silence and must be accompanied with the believers (women to the back) prostrating themselves in the direction of Mecca, its restrictive dress-code for females which transforms women and girls into walking billboards for Islam, its insistence on the segregation of the sexes wherever possible …

This surplus of exceptions for one religion will only serve to remind children of the claim made by the followers of Allah and His Messenger that Islam is the greatest religion. Only the greatest religion would get that kind of respect.

An undoubtedly well-meaning but dangerous initiative aimed at children when they are most susceptible to indoctrination will result in Islam eating every other religion’s lunch.

Islam, the religion that seeks to control every waking moment of a believer's existence, is in the best position to take advantage of a bonasse (pronounced bone-ass, generous to the point of being foolish) policy which makes religion again the focal point of a child’s education.

Children will suffer religion’s assault on at least three fronts:

1) the teacher at the front of the class talking about someone’s god;

2) children wearing or displaying the equivalent of an advertisement for their god;

3) the empty seats, the inevitable result of a reasonable accommodation given to students for whom it is a sin to be part of a discussion where Allah is not acknowledged as the superior god and Islam the perfect religion, of which there can only be one.

Muslims, under normal circumstances, may not take part in any dialogue about another religion, if during such a dialogue there is the possibility that the teacher or classmate will even imply that Islam is not the perfect religion, that the Prophet Muhammad is not God’s last and greatest prophet, that Allah is not the greatest god, or make an unwelcomed comment about Islam.

4:140 He has revealed to you in the Book that, should you hear the Revelations of Allah being denied or mocked, you should not sit with them until they engage in some other discussion. Otherwise, you are like them. Allah shall assemble all the hypocrites and the unbelievers in Hell;

At this writing, I have no knowledge of Muslim parents or students demanding to be exempt from classes when other religions are discussed as part of the Religion and Ethics program. If recent history is any guide it is only a matter of time, and under the logic of Bouchard-Taylor, Fleury and the Supreme Court it must be granted.

The Marguerite-Bourgeoys Experience and Beyond

In January 2007, the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board, the Board that had fought the costly battle to stop children from bringing concealed weapons to school and loss was again in the news.

A Montréal television network reported that Muslim students from the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys were exempted from compulsory music classes.

Bouchard-Taylor, p.56

What the Muslim students and/or their parents found objectionable, and for which they were given an exemption (a reasonable accommodation), were music classes and musical representations involving wind instruments, everything from flutes to piccolos to clarinets to didgeridoos; for all intents and purposes, all music classes.

The school board appears to have readily acquiesced to what most reasonable people would consider an unreasonable demand. Why?

Prior to the Supreme Court decision allowing children to bring concealed weapons to class, Marguerite-Bourgeoys would probably not have so easily caved in to prejudices and irrational fears. It is estimated that Margaret-Bourgeois spent more than a million dollars in legal and sundry expenses to try to stop children from bringing weapons onto school property.

The expense for a school board of having to justify in Court a decision to refuse an exception to the general curriculum must make school boards extremely leery about denying requests for preferential treatment. What would be the point?

The Supreme Court of Canada has set the bar so high for a school to refuse a so-called reasonable accommodation that children are now exempt, not only from being exposed to another child’s religious beliefs, but also from being exposed to stuff that is part of everyday, normal existence for the vast majority of Canadians, whatever their religion.

If children are allowed to bring concealed weapons to class what chance have schools boards of winning an argument in the Courts against religion’s more outwardly benign and bizarre demands.

Bizarre yes, benign, I am not so sure.

How does a teacher explain to children that some of their classmates are exempt from blowing a flute. In fact, can not be present in class if a flute is blown, because a pathologically prudish god-fearing man with a vivid imagination, a long time ago, said that anything which resembled a man's penis (an erect penis one must assume) such as a flute, into which you blew or used your fingers to coax out a tune would cause boys and girls to have “dirty thoughts”.

Should a child’s first exposure to explicit sexual information have anything to do with flutes, or any musical instruments for that matter?

Explaining to children what flutes and little boys’ penises have in common and why exposure to flutes is bad for some children and not others is bound to be difficult, but I suspect not as difficult as explaining why non-circumcised little boys are impure.


Every morning, when a Muslim student in a private school in the northern part of Montréal entered his classroom he went to the bookcase and removed the Koran and placed it on top of the bookcase. In his mind, the sacred book could not be placed with the others. The teacher put the book back and explained to the student why the Koran could not be granted special status. In the end, the child understood and accepted the explanation.

Elsewhere, other students had adopted the same habit. The Koran had to be placed out of reach of the impure, i.e. in this instance, the uncircumcised. Most of these requests were rejected. (p 81)

Our two professors actually used this type of example, which leaves a number of important questions unanswered, such as why some requests to place the Koran out of reach of the uncircumcised kids was granted, in support of the Fleury Committee’s conclusion that more accommodation is better.

I am also not convinced that teachers can deal with most requests in an expeditious manner as suggested by Bouchard-Tailor without exposing non-Muslim children to an early sexual education, an education skewed by Islam's concept of sexual morality.

The Koran, and to a lesser extent the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, is learned by rote. Memorizing as much of both is the goal. In the case of the Koran, it is a race. Children are told that the fastest to commit the entire three hundred or so page book to memory are guaranteed a privileged place in heaven. Don’t ask questions, just read and re-read and read again until all seventy seven thousand words or so (English translation) in the original Arabic until all 6,346 verses are forever etched in memory. Islam is special that way.

For Allah to listen to anyone reciting the Koran it must be recited out loud and in the original Arabic, the language of God. This is one reason why the Windsor Greater Essex County District School Board, which has a large Arab/Muslim student population, has started immersion classes in Arabic in elementary school.

This taxpayer funded plan, ostensibly to make learning easier for Arab children, may serve only to re-enforce a student’s commitment to Islam at the expense of their commitment to their country, and ensure that they are never as comfortable in English or French as they are in Arabic.

Don’t ask questions! Even where religion is concerned, this is usually not what children born into a less restrictive faith or in no faith at all are inclined to do.

Discussions about sex in the public school system are not new. Until Islam, the discussions were mostly between parents and school administrators, and usually  had to do with when public schools should teach children about sex, if at all.

Islam’s obsession with sexual imagery, phallic symbols and concept of purity means that non-Muslim children, under reasonable accommodation, are getting a sexual education, mostly about Islamic sexual mores, whether their parents like it or not, and at an age most would find unsuitable.

In her Analysis of Jurisprudence Pertaining to Reasonable Accommodation in the School, Professor Woehrling explains how the Americans avoided a nonsensical policy like reasonable accommodation which would teach tolerance by granting exceptions to school children whose parents will not tolerate them being exposed to other children’s values and beliefs.

The American courts generally consider that the mere exposure of children to ideas that their parents find objectionable from a religious standpoint is not sufficient to constitute an infringement of freedom of religion, whether that of the children or that of their parents. They base their opinion on the distinction between mere exposure to ideas deemed to be reprehensible from a religious standpoint, which the courts do not believe leads to any infringement of freedom of religion, on the one hand, and having to act contrary to a religious conviction or confirm one’s adherence to a belief, which constitute infringements of this freedom, on the other hand.

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling, p.116.

Québec introduced its Ethics and Religious Culture program of study, in part, to counter the unease that so-called reasonable accommodation generated in the general population who, correctly concluded that reasonable accommodation was mostly about pandering to religious interests in general and Islam in particular (the raison d’être of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission).

The program's stated objective is to teach children tolerance by exposing them, at an early age, to different systems of beliefs.

Tolerance, as it is understood under Canadian multiculturalism doctrine is mostly about not making value judgments, and this is what will be taught to children who will then be expected to educate their parents.

Québec’s religious study program is not as offensive as reasonable accommodation which implicitly ranks religion by the number of exceptions given to practitioners of a given faith. However, as was pointed out earlier, it will significantly increase the exposure of children in a school system that, at this writing, is more than 90% Christian to the beliefs of one religion, Islam, whose entire student body in 2001 was less than 2%.

Selected Religions in Quebec 2001 Census

In effect, the great majority of Québec taxpayers will be paying to expose their children to religious beliefs and traditions that are the antithesis of their core beliefs and traditions such as those that denigrate females and validate the position of the male as the female's lord and master.

In the 2007 general election in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario — the same province that came within a hair’s breadth of introducing Islamic tribunals to Canada — the opposition party promised if they came to power to fully fund Islamic schools, the madrassas.

During a debate on full funding for private religious schools, Farzana Hassan, President of the Muslim Canadian Congress (not to be confused with the conservative Canadian Islamic Congress, the Muslim Canadian Congress is against using taxpayer dollars to pay for any type of faith-based schooling) was puzzled that the government would fund schools that teach children that little boys are superior to little girls. The same question could now be asked of the Québec Government.

It may be mostly Islamic radicals, not forward-looking moderate Muslims like the Ms. Hassan, as Bouchard-Taylor and Fleury would have you believe, who vigorously favour a policy of reasonable accommodation; a policy which can only improve the position of radical Islam vis-à-vis the moderates, other religions and within Québec and Canadian society as a whole.

What happens if the classroom discussion about Islam strays into even more controversial subjects such as the stoning of women and girls?

I can imagine at least one question from children on killing girls by throwing rocks aiming for their heads such as: “Why do men throw stones at girls for doing adultery, and teacher, what is adultery?” Every time a woman or girl is stoned to death in a country governed by Islamic law, and Western media becomes aware, it makes the news so most children know something about the stoning ritual.

What if the discussion strays into the plain gruesome, which tends to fascinate school-aged children and pre-teens, boys in particular, such as Islam's approval of mutilation as a form of corporal punishment? Again, I believe that many pre-teens and most teenagers are at least, remotely aware of the following verse.

5:38 As for the thieves, whether male or female, cut off their hands in punishment for what they did, as an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty and Wise.

Should non-Muslim school-children, leaning about Islam in school, be told not to try to convince any Muslim friends, who may have ignored Allah's warning about fraternization with the enemy, to switch religion?

5:51 O believers, do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends; some of them are friends of each other. Whoever of you takes them as friends is surely one of them. Allah indeed does not guide the wrongdoers.

Should they be told that a Muslim who abandons the perfect religion for one less perfect risks being murdered for doing so?

4:89 They wish that you disbelieve, as they have disbelieved, so that you will all be alike. Do not, then, take any companions from them, until they emigrate in the Way of Allah. Then should they turn back, seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and do not take from them any companions or supporter;

The Prophet said: “If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him. (Bukhari: 4.52.260).”

Does Salmon Rushdie ring a bell? What was that all about? What about the cartoon protests? What were they all about?

Does Salmon Rushdie ring a bell? What was that all about? What about the cartoon protests? What were they all about?

If you answered that the first was mostly about freedom of speech, and the other about freedom of expression, and that Islam will go to extremes to deny both those charter freedoms where the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad are concerned, give yourself a gold star.

Should non-Muslim students be told that while Muslims may make disparaging observations about their less than perfect religion, for them to make similar remarks about Islam may not be wise?

During the cartoon protests, demonstrators carried signs demanding that, in accordance with a revelation from Allah, the cartoonists who drew mostly innocent caricatures of the perfect human be butchered.

5:33 Indeed, the punishment of those who fight Allah and His Messenger and go around corrupting the land is to be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on opposite sides, or to be banished from the land. That is a disgrace for them in this life, and in the life to come theirs will be a terrible punishment.

Should non-Muslim students under eighteen, leaning about the Koran as part of a religious education program, be encouraged to learn more about the perfect religion by reading the Koran?

Should non-Muslim students under eighteen, leaning about the Koran as part of a religious education program, be encouraged to learn more about the perfect religion by reading the Koran?

Once you get accustomed to Allah’s meandering revelations, the Koran is surprisingly easy to read and understand, and a short book by holy book standards. Translations of the Koran are usually called interpretations, for reasons that may have more to do with a pre-emptive excuse for the truly horrific descriptions of what unbelievers and sinners can expect in the here-and-now e.g. verse 5:33 and the Hereafter. Verses like the following about roasting a man over an open fire, with his wife, tethered like an animal, supplying the firewood that fuels the flame that is burning her husband is one reason why, in my opinion, the Koran is adult material.

111:1. Perish the hands of Abu Lahab, and may he perish too; 111:2. Neither his wealth nor what he has earned will avail him anything.

111:3. He will roast in a flaming fire,

111:4. And his wife will be a carrier of fire-wood,

111:5. She shall have a rope of fibre around her neck.

Does it matter that Abu Lahab and his wife were inveterate enemies of Islam in the early days; the excuse that is bound to be given by a Muslim child should such verses be quoted during a classroom discussion.

The teachers who will have to explain Islam and the Koran to non-Muslim children will probably stick to generalities and misleading statements about all religions being about learning to be good little boys and girls and avoid any value judgment. Like most Canadians, the children will be left with the impression that the Koran and the Bible contain the same message and there is nothing to worry about.

Like most Canadians, the children will be left with the impression that the Koran and the Bible contain the same message and there is nothing to worry about. The Koran does borrow heavily from the Old Testament, but the New Testament is a whole different matter. The Koran, in many respects, is a wholesale repudiation of most of the New Testament, the most significant being its unremitting denunciation of Jesus as being the Son of God, and Jesus’ message about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek.

This forced teaching of anti-Christian dogma, at this writing, is being challenged in Court by the Loyola Catholic High School of Montréal. Only 5 of the school’s 720 students are not Catholic.

Unlike Jesus, Allah is vengeful and unforgiving. Retaliation is a central theme of the Koran. Proportionate retaliation for wrongs done to the believers, brutal retaliation if the alleged transgression is against Allah or His Messenger as recommended in the often quoted verse 5:33.

In the Koran, Jesus is just another prophet whose teachings it was the Prophet Muhammad’s burden to correct.

Of all the things the Koran borrowed from the Old Testament, the most dangerous has to be the graven images prohibition which Islam has taken to the extreme, as it tends to do, interpreting it as a blanket rejection of the Western art form.

Exodus 20:4 Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in waters under the earth.

The banning of musical instruments by the Prophet because of their alleged phallic allure is one thing, the rejection of all Western Art that depicts or even remotely resembles the human or animal form is quite another.

Any works of art that depicts the human or animal form Islam considers an act of creation therefore an infringement on Allah’s domain such as the almost two thousand years old Bamiyan Buddhas which the Taliban pulverized. Such works of art are considered blasphemous and must be destroyed. Allah, being a jealous insecure god, also fears that the artist will want to worship his creation instead of Him and entice others to do the same.

Conservative Islam of the type we find in Saudi Arabia and increasingly in countries like Canada which allow the teaching of what Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble With Islam, A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change, calls Desert-Islam, would, given the opportunity, eradicate most, if not all Western art and in doing so most of our history as far back as the Paleolithic.

The stone age man who made the drawings of the animals that populated his time and domain on the walls of the cave at Lascaux, and every other human who took up his art after him or molded a figure out of clay will not have a good time on Judgment Day. Allah will ask them to breathe life into their creations, and failing to do so, He and his entourage will have a good laugh before He casts them all into Hell to burn for an eternity with their works of art.

Bouchard-Taylor (and by extension the Fleury Committee) see nothing wrong in exempting students, because of their religious beliefs, from being exposed to the Western art form and Western traditions. This, in and of itself, would be enough to dismiss their report as feel-good fluff oblivious of what is at stake. But what really sets their reports apart is their approval of exempting students from an approved public school “reading program.”

The example they give is again a trivial one considering the implication of what they propose. The important thing to remember here is that it is the student (or his parents) who decides what is suitable reading material.

Let us first mention requests that are ordinarily accepted as submitted, except when a specific constraint presents an obstacle to doing so… If the students believe that they are prohibited from reading certain books, such as the Da Vinci Code, other books are proposed to them.

Bouchard-Taylor, An Overview of Requests [for Accommodation], p.21.

The American Courts consider exempting citizens from being exposed to materials and ideas they may find objectionable a threat to democracy by creating citizens who will not be able to make informed choices.

An initial consideration stemming from American law is that, were there an infringement of freedom of religion through the compulsory imposition of a determined reading program, such an infringement might be warranted by the public school’s mission to develop the students’ ability to reflect critically on complex, controversial topics to prepare them to exercise their responsibilities as citizens.

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling p. 117.

What can Canadians expect if a request to be exempt from a public school reading program for religious reasons reaches our Supreme Court?

Woehrling is not optimistic that the Court will follow the American's sensible example.

Taking into account all of these criticisms and that the Canadian courts are inclined to interpret freedom of religion extremely broadly and generously, as revealed by the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgments in the Amselem and Multani cases, it is not impossible that the latter adopt, if the question is raised before it, an attitude different from that adopted by American jurisprudence and that it consider that the obligation imposed on students in public schools to attend classes or read books of which their parents disapprove for religious reasons leads to an infringement of freedom of religion for the parents or the children (or both).

Fleury Committee Report, José Woehrling, p. 117

In the Amselem case (Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551, 2004 SCC 47) a group of divided co-owners installed “succahs” on their balconies for the purposes of fulfilling the biblically mandated obligation of dwelling in such small enclosed temporary huts during the annual nine-day Jewish religious festival of Succot. This violated the by-laws and the respondent asked the co-owners to dismantle the succahs and proposed to allow the appellants to set up a communal succah in the gardens. The appellants expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed accommodation, explaining that it would go against their religion.

The Court ruled that the constraints posed by the co-ownership by-laws that prevent co-owners from building their own succah were an infringement of freedom of religion.

Reasonable accommodation, if it becomes a fixture of the Canadian public school system as an inevitable result of a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada “[raising] religious sacrament to the level of secular right”, to quote Beryl Wajsman of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal on the Kirpan decision, may end up creating the equivalent of the Taliban in Canada when it comes to the Western art form and a Western education.

There is a battle in the Koran to which Allah returns again and again. It is the Battle of Badr in 624 C.E. In this battle, out-numbered Muslims defeat a much larger force of their fellow Arabs (Meccans mostly) who are intent on doing away with the Prophet and his followers once and for all.

It was a pivotal battle. If the Muslims had lost the Battle of Badr, Islam would have been stillborn; the perfect religion relegated to a historical footnote, if remembered at all.

From this improbable victory where, it is said, Allah sent a swarm of invisible angels to help the Muslims defeat the enemies of Islam, Islamic militants find the strength and courage to fight on against incredible odds to establish Allah’s kingdom on earth and winning.

A small determined Muslim Canadian minority, as part of grander initiative to return Western civilization to its early medieval roots when superstition ruled the imagination, wants to change the course of Canadian history.

If you think this course change is necessary then all you have to do is let reasonable accommodation run amok and eventually you will be accommodated out of your heritage, a heritage that included tolerance, but not unthinking tolerance.

As parents, now that you know what is at stake, what do you teach your children, or more specifically what do you insist your public schools teach your children... without exceptions?

The last word on reasonable accommodation I will leave to Soheib Bencheikh, a respected Imam and theologian and the Grand Mufti of the Mosque of Marseille, the largest mosque in France. He was in Montreal during the height of the debate on allowing Islamic Tribunals to operate in Canada for a conference on the rise of religious fundamentalism and its impact on human rights.

During his stay in Montreal, Soheib Bencheikh appeared on Indicatif présent a Radio-Canada interview program hosted by Marie-France Bazzo. It was during this interview with Ms. Bazzo that he made the following observations about Muslim-Canadians who demand special treatment and those who grant their wish (my transcription and translation):

I am completely outraged, outraged even though I am use to Muslims demanding special treatment [because they are Muslims], but I don’t believe that this is the wish of the majority of Muslims living in Canada.

I am also outraged by the attitude of some non-Muslim Canadians because, if they want to respect Muslims, it is not by further singling them out for special treatment.

If we want to show respect for Muslims as citizens of Canada, it is to see them as typical Canadians, modern [and] enlightened, and [Canadian] women who enjoy rights equal to men in every respect, etc. This is showing respect, this is the type of equitable treatment that Muslims expect from this country.