Volume 92, Issue 35

Thursday, November 5, 1998

a little bit louder now


Going against the basic rights

Re: MSA praying ousted from UCC, Oct. 29

To the Editor:
I thought Mark Brown's article titled "MSA praying ousted from UCC" was very well done, but I would like to add a few points, if I may.

I want to make one point poignantly clear – the Muslim Students' Association does not have a problem with the Western administration, rather our beef is with the University Students' Council in general and the executive in particular.

This university has been exceptionally helpful to the Muslims. In fact, this week the faculty of law has invited the Muslims at this campus to pray their weekly congregational prayers in the law school lounge for the next year and a half and this Friday we will be there. We appreciate their support. It is our student representatives that are giving, not only the Muslims, but all religious students, a difficult time.

This year they are enforcing a policy (thus far only with the Muslims) that there can be no religious expression allowed in the ERC and the conference rooms on the third floor of the UCC. We think this policy is asinine and inherently discriminatory. The policy should change.

Why is God's name not welcome on the third floor conference rooms? This notion is absurd. If this policy is enforced to others as well, this would mean that Christians, Buddhist, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and others would not be allowed to pray or meditate here as well. Why?

The USC policy is inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the policy of the University of Western Ontario. Religious groups and individuals book the conference rooms like anyone else, there is no history of damage by religious organizations and more often than not they only need it for a short amount of time.

Historically, there has been no problems and to my knowledge, no one has ever complained. I don't know where this new wave of USC executive anti-religiousness is coming from!

Members of the Muslim Legal Society and the MSA argued for religious students at the USC's meeting on Oct. 28. To our surprise most of the councillors had no idea this policy was in place. Some were even disgusted by the reservation policy. The issue was tabled, a new policy will be drafted and will be voted on Nov. 11 (ironically, the same day various religious organizations along with the campus chaplains are co-organizing a presentation of non-violence at the McKellar room).

For those who agree that the existing policy is problematic, please contact your USC representative and ask him/her to vote in favour of changing the policy to one more tolerant of religious beliefs.

Hussein A. Hamdani
President, MSA
Law II

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Copyright The Gazette 1998