Toronto Hindus oppose Muslim prayers at school

Toronto, July 5 (IANS) Friday nawaz prayers at a school in the Toronto suburb of North York have angered Hindu advocacy groups here.

The noon-time prayers for 400 Muslim students of the Valley Park Middle School were introduced last November.

Angry Hindu advocacy groups want the 40-minute prayers, which are conducted by an imam specially brought from a mosque, to be stopped immediately.

The local Canadian Hindu Advocacy, led by Ron Banerjee, is roping in various Hindu organizations to hold protests outside the school to pressure management to stop the Friday prayers. 'This is alarming and unacceptable. We respect the separation of church and state,' Banerjee has said in interviews to the media.

'There's not supposed to be any religious classes taking place in public schools. We will be asking the board to stop the practice,' according to Banerjee.

He says his group is writing letters to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to intervene to stop the practice being allowed by the school management.

The school has the responsibility for ensuring secular education for students, the Hindu advocacy leader adds.

Banerjee says upset parents of Hindu students at the Valley Park Middle School have brought this practice to their notice.

He said Hindu groups will also raise objections to 'the serving of halal meat within TDSB schools. Our organization is determined to ensure all Hindu students are provided non-halal meat alternatives.'

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are the biggest non-white communities of the Toronto area.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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