In the News:
Court Rejects Appeal concerning Prayer Spaces in Schools

Quebec judge denies request to appeal decision maintaining school prayer space ban, Jacob Serebrin, CTV News, 2023-07-26-court.

A Muslim organization and a civil rights group seeking to suspend Quebec’s ban on prayer spaces in public schools have been denied leave to appeal a court decision that maintained the ban. Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville ruled Wednesday that he’s not convinced the appeal — which sought to allow the prayer spaces while the courts hear a constitutional challenge — had a reasonable chance of success.


The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) are challenging the constitutionality of the prayer space ban.


The groups had argued the rule is effectively a total ban on prayer for Muslim students, whose prayer practices require physical action. However, Mainville, who accepted the government’s argument that the ban is intended to preserve the secular nature of Quebec’s public schools, found that only prayer spaces were targeted. Mainville said the limits on religious freedoms don’t appear to be serious enough to justify suspending the law before a trial.

This is a small but important victory for secularism. The ban on prayer spaces in schools is not suspended. Very good, because believers can pray discreetly anywhere, and they can pray with “physical action” at home or at a mosque.

However, the substantive challenge is yet to be heard before the courts.

It should be noted that the two associations (CCLA and NCCM) which are challenging this ban are attempting a strategy very frequently used by anti-secularists: holding the State responsible for the choices—or rather, the whims—of religious believers. That is to say, they claim that Muslims cannot pray discreetly because they need space for “physical action.” Fortunately, Judge Mainville did not fall for this.

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