Here's a look, in French, at the Canadian Federation of Students' (CFS') Final Report of the Task Force on Needs of Muslim Students. I offer my own quick and dirty translation of the review below.
I wish to fully review this report in my own way in the future. It's on the to-do list. But you can read the report yourself (in English) here [pdf]. It's a fairly large document.
The CFS has been putting out these "anti-Islamophobia" buttons with this image on them. May I suggest to students the buying of a Gates of Vienna, "Proud to be Islamophobic" button in riposte? You may have to watch out though, CFS and others are of the nature of, bizarrely, defining Islamphobia as a form of racism, even though Islam has nothing to do with race and is, in part at least, a political ideology and should be subject to criticism just like any other ideology. So keep this in mind before you start publicly opposing political Islam on your campus.
Anyway, here's my translation:
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) published a report on the needs of Muslim students. The report contains about sixty recommendations which the report asks the Canadian universities to implement, at their expense, in order to fight “Islamophobic discrimination” on campuses.
The recommendations, based on a rigorous look at Islam, relate to, in particular: the places of prayers; adaptation to Muslim practices and religious festivals; segregation of the sexes in sporting installations (with screening of windows for the hours resevered for women); prohibition of alcohol at receptions; and a system of Sharia-compatible (interest-free) student loans; with public funds.
The CFS reminds the university authorities and the government their legal obligations with regards to matters of accommodation and asks them to implement, as soon as possible, what are described as "relatively modest recommendations." But, in fact, one sees here more significant requests which will have an impact on the university and taxpayers. Many of the concessions demanded of the unviversites, which are asked to conform to Islamic values, is an attempt to impose a particlar "Absolute Truth" over others, which paves a way that will likely become a highway towards Islamisation of Canadian campuses.
We comment on here some of the recommendations of the report :
Prayer-rooms and financing of Muslim associations
The report recommends rooms for multiple prayers easily accessible from all the points of the campus, reserved exclusively for Muslims, with matched installations for ritual ablutions. The cost of the management and maitenance of these installations should be assumed completely by the universities. It also requests that the universities assure an adequate financing of Muslim student associations.
One will remember that this question was discussed in Quebec last year when a Muslim student association of the advanced school of technology affiliated with the University of Quebec complained over discrimination on the basis of religion when the school refused its request for buildings dedicated to religious practice for the exclusive use of the Muslim students. The Commission of the rights of the people decided that the fact of holding exclusively a room for the practice of one religion could constitute a compromise causing an "excessive constraint" for the school, since they would likely have to support requests of the same order from students of other beliefs.
The association also required that the school grant an official recognition and financing to it. The Commission of the rights of the people refused this application. (Surely a fascinating act that this school with a secular character can refuse to accredit religious associations!) According to the Commission, this refusal does not prevent the Muslim students from gathering in association and thus does not infringe their freedom of association.
This decision of the Commission is in much the right direction. The university authorities of the other provinces would do well in imitating.
Segregation of the Sexes
The places of prayer should include the segregation of men and women. In the same way, the sporting centers and the swimming pools should include hours reserved exclusively for women. Curtains or screens should cover the windows so as to hide women from the sight of men.
But which vision of humanity is this promting here? How can one assert"segregation " in the name of the freedom of eligion and place "burkas" on the windows? The Charter of Rights recognizes the principle of eqal dignity of woman and man. The public institutions cannot endorse the opposite. They must refuse to entertain an obscurantist vision of the world wanting that the man is not responsible for his instincts and that it is fitting for the woman to have to hide in order to prevent the sin of effecting the thoughts and self-control of the man. This vision of the world, which runs against the Canadian values, reduces the woman to a sex object. It is also insulting for the men, who are seen as beings dominated by their uncontrollable instincts.
Prohibition of Alcohol
Dry periods, where no alcohol is in use, should be planned for the receptions and orientations sessions organized on campuses.
This recommendation amounts to imposing on others an absolutist lifestyle based on religious rules. A respectful compromise, of the pluralist character befitting Canada and its freedoms, would consist, rather, in replacing the traditional "wine and cheese" with a "wine, juice and cheese." [That is, rather than removing the wine altogether. And I point out that this "pluralist, Canadian" compromise of having non-alcoholic drinks is already the case --KC]
Student loans without interest in conformity with Sharia law.
Interest-free loans, as the Sharia requires, should be granted to Muslim students by the government.
The authors of the report indicate that Islam prohibits usury and loans with interest. The Muslim students would thus be placed in the unacceptable situation of having to infringe the precepts of their religion in order to attend university.
It claims here not a "legal right," but a "preference" to be financed by the community. No institution should have to accommodate the entire precepts of one religion. The loans with interest do not constitute an unreasonable obstacle to the exercise of, by Muslim students, their right to university instruction under respectful conditions of their dignity. Why should the mode of financing of university students be seen as forming part of the substance of the freedom of religion?
Islamic Perspectives in Courses
Students suggest integrating the Islamic perspective in the contents for course such as marketing, finance and nursing – fields where there would be specific differences between the Islamic and Western perspectives.
Why stop with the Islamic perspective? This is not equality being claimed here, but a complete reform of the contents of the university programs. If it was necessary to take action on this suggestion, one would also have, in a concern ḏegality, to introduce the perspective Christian woman, Hindu woman, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Shamanic, etc. Do universities have to integrate the various versions of creationism into science programs?
The perspective of one religion given should be reserved for the courses relating specifically to the worldview of the various religions or beliefs. Otherwise, one falls into institutionalised proselytising.
Risks hostile reactions
The irony of CFS's initiative is that, instead of supporting the integration of young Muslims, it is rather likely to produce the contrary effect. The excessive character of the requests will reinforce the prejudices towards Muslims and will slow down spontaneous sociability between students of various beliefs. As one recently saw at the University of Toronto, where unhealthy tensions emerged when Muslim students asked for the prohibition of alcohol and music at a restaurant located on the campus.
By Annie Lessard