The Webber Academy is an acclaimed secular private school in Alberta. It treats all religious faiths equally: no religious observance is permitted in school. No prayers, no worship services. Not for any religion. Period.
That is, until some parents of Muslim students filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The HRC found against the Webber Academy, and ordered it to pay a fine, and to accommodate its Muslim students, to avoid discrimination.
In other words, Muslim students must be treated differently from all other students, otherwise they are being discriminated against.
The following video features Ezra Levant’s take on this farrago of “justice” in Modern Multicultural Canada:
Below are excerpts from an article in the National Post on the judgment against the school:
Calgary school slapped with $26K fine for refusing to let Muslim students pray on campus
A Calgary private school unlawfully discriminated against two Muslim students by refusing to allow them to pray on campus, says the province’s human rights tribunal.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission fined Webber Academy a total of $26,000 for distress and loss of dignity after the boys were forced to hide at the school or leave the property during the city’s chilly winter to fulfill their faith’s obligations.
Neil Webber, the facility’s founder and president, said he was disappointed with the ruling released Thursday and said an appeal with Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench will be filed.
“A key pillar of our founding principles is that the school be a non-denominational environment in which children can thrive and focus on their academic success,” Webber said.
“This remains our goal.”
A human rights law expert at the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre said the ruling is a reminder to providers of public services in Alberta like schools and businesses that there is a duty to accommodate religious beliefs so long as they don’t cause undue hardship to the organization.
“It could be a Jehovah’s witness who wants Saturday off from work or a few students who want a space to pray at a school,” Sarah Burton said.
“If someone has a protected ground under human rights legislation and you can reasonably work around that request, then you’re obligated to provide it.”
The ruling focussed on the treatment of 14-year-old Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddique who were admitted to Webber Academy in late 2011.
The tribunal heard undisputed evidence that in the first few weeks they attended the school staff accommodated their request to pray by allowing them to use an empty classroom.
When the parents received a call from Webber in mid-December saying the children would now need to leave the school premises to pray, the boys began going outside on the school grounds when timings of some of the five daily devotions coincided with class hours.
If there was a blizzard outside or if it was too cold to pray, Siddique testified the pair would use a nook or cranny inside instead.
In early February, Webber wrote the parents to say that because the school’s policies were being ignored the boys would not be accepted for enrolment for the next academic year.
A few days later when Siddique violated the school’s directive by praying in the library, he testified that school vice-president Barbara Webber approached him and asked him repeatedly what he was doing such that he felt compelled to stop.
“I had this intense sense of shame and humiliation, despite the fact that I was just exercising my right as a Canadian citizen, as a human being, to practise my faith,” he said.
Hat tip: Vlad Tepes.