On January 10, 2017, I attended the Peel District School Board's meeting where recommendations for allowing Muslim students to write their own sermons (khutbah) for congregational Friday (Jumma) prayers in public schools were received. For more than 15 years, students were allowed to pray in the school but not in a congregational setting. In June 2016, the Jumma prayer was officially adopted but the students were only allowed to read from a list of pre-approved sermons.
Mississauga is one of three cities in the Peel region and the sixth largest city in Canada with high ethnic diversity and a population nearing one million. One of Mississauga's calls to fame is that it is home to at least eight members of the "Toronto 18" -- the first terrorist cell uncovered in 2006 and that aimed to create an Al-Qaida type of operation in Canada. Some of the 18 attended public schools: Saad Khalid, for example, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for pleading guilty to a single count of acting "with the intention of causing an explosion or explosions that were likely to cause serious bodily harm or death or damage property". He was known to have attended the Meadowvale Secondary School. There, he had started an Islamic Club and, in the lecture hall, had led Friday prayers, which he attended with fellow arrestees Fahim Ahmad and Zakaria Amara. If people like Khalid are the champions of organizing Jumaa prayers and Khutbah in their schools, it is no wonder that pre-scripted sermons were the way to protect public safety while allowing Muslim students still to practice their faith.
Canadian police arrest some of the "Toronto 18" terrorist plotters, in 2006. (Image source: CBC News video screenshot)
Today, radicalization in Western societies is becoming epidemic. It has become a reality of life in general, and an everyday concern to parents in particular -- especially parents who want their kids safe from terrorism as well as parents who want their kids safe from radicalization.
This crisis could not be more highlighted than by a segment recently aired by 1010 News Talk, ironically on the same day, the morning January 10, 2017: "What do you do if your child decides to join ISIS?" -- a topic that was probably unimaginable a few years ago, when protecting public safety trumped sensitivity, but has become a reality today as sensitivity seems to overpower protecting public safety.
The school board said it believes that the checks and balances put in place will ensure that the Friday sermons not be used for radicalizing Muslim students; however, as laws against "Islamophobia" become a reality in Canada, and attempts to raise a concern are labelled hate speech, one should not count on it. With the passing of time, vigilance will be abandoned and people who express concern will find themselves vulnerable to bullying and defamation if they try to address an issue or crack down on a violation.
While the case of Ghada Sadaka, a principal in the York Region District School Board, is slightly different. She was forced to apologize for postings on Facebook and comments such as:
"A good start, but where is the voice of Muslims who are not extremists and of which they condemn these acts of terrorism. This is the time of vocalizing "where you stand"!!!"
Sadaka was simply posting her thoughts on social media without addressing a particular issue at schools. Yet, the purportedly moral war launched against her is only a pilot project: it is a warning to any other principal who tries to create awareness about radicalization or condemn it.
Radicalization is not only manifested through the use of violence, but also through desiring to live by and impose Sharia law on society. Under Sharia, polygamy is legal, honour crimes and female genital mutilation (FGM) are not punishable, amputations are welcome as a form of punishment, gays and apostates should be killed, and women's rights are no more.
A 2016 survey noted that one in four UK Muslims prefer to live under Sharia. This troubling finding led to former head of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, who popularized the term "Islamophobia", to admit that he was wrong. He said: "I thought Muslims would blend into Britain... I should have known better." Today, the UK is plagued with having two parallel legal systems: the UK courts and the Sharia courts.
One reason for the increased popularity of sharia is the radicalization of second and third generation Muslims in Western societies. Uncovering the root cause of that radicalization can be found in the book Lovers of Death, authored by the Muslim authority and expert on political Islam, Saied Shoaaib. In his book, Shoaaib points out that the dilemma for Western societies is that the only version of Islam available to them is the radical version, mostly in mosques and Islamic schools, and also in public libraries. Even when he visited the Ottawa public library and handed them books that represent a more peaceful outlook on Islam to balance out what is already there, the library never considered including them in their Arabic language collection.
The idea of increasing the Islamic content in the public sphere is pathetic; especially in a society where so many people seem to have agreed that the founding Judeo-Christian values should take a back seat in an attempt to make everybody feel "included". These accommodations result in the immense risk to our freedom of speech and way of life. There is also an economic penalty, as in the reduced opportunities for employment and lost business recently highlighted by the closure of the Peugeot auto plant, due to the excessive prayer breaks requested by Muslims who constitute the majority of the workers.
The ongoing demand for the accommodation of Muslims in Western societies is a situation worth understanding. In the documentary "The Third Jihad", Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an American Muslim who dedicates his life to fighting radicalization, explains that it is a cultural jihad that is meant to destroy our society from within - slowly and gradually to impose the Sharia way of life. Produced exactly 10 years ago, the documentary was re-released in 2017, to demonstrate how his accurate predictions of societal transformation have come to pass. Now, for an accurate prediction of where Canada will be in 2026 if we continue on the same path, one need to look no farther than the report, "The Islamization of Britain in 2016" at Gatestone Institute, by the meticulous scholar, Soeren Kern.
Maha Soliman is based in Canada.
 Recommendations included:
- All prayer spaces will continue to be supervised by school staff.
- Prayer will be led by students only, on Friday, for Jummah prayer.
- Two or more students can pray together on any other day but prayers would not be led nor include a sermon.
- Students may write their own sermon (khutbah) or can use a sermon (khutbah) from a bank of prewritten sermons, obtained from the school MSA or a local faith leader.
- Sermons will be presented in English, except for any verses quoted directly from the Quran.
- Sermons must comply with the school code of conduct, the Education Act, its Regulations and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- As with all student activities in schools, appropriate disciplinary and corrective action will be taken where there are any contraventions of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the school code of conduct.