East End Madrassah loses Toronto school permit after anti-Semitic postings on website (TORONTO STAR) Kristin Rushowy 05/17/12)
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A local Islamic school cannot use a Scarborough public school for
weekend classes until police have wrapped up their investigation into
anti-Jewish teachings, Toronto’s public board has decided.
The controversy over East End Madrassah’s curriculum has also
prompted the board to promise a review of its permit process “in the
very near future” and make the rules clear to groups that rent out
space, said Jim Spyropoulos, co-ordinating superintendent of
York Region police’s hate crimes unit is still investigating the
online material — which came to light early last week — that called
ancient Jews “treacherous” and “crafty” and accused them
of “conspiring to kill the Prophet Muhammad.”
The madrassah immediately pulled the documents and issued an apology.
Spyropoulos said the Toronto District School Board had not been able
to reach the madrassah’s administrators until this Tuesday.
“What we said was, we needed to be satisfied with the outcome of the
investigation and that they were in compliance with our policies and
procedures” before they can use board property, he added.
The board has asked for a meeting “to have a deeper discussion”
around the issue “so we can have a clear understanding of their
programming and curriculum, and how and why some of the statements
that appeared on their website were there.”
The East End Madrassah rents space from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday
at David and Mary Thomson Collegiate, on Lawrence Ave. E. near
Brimley Rd. It was not booked to use the school again until May 27,
June 3, and June 10.
Avi Benlolo of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust
Studies, who alerted police to the offensive material, was pleased
with the board’s move but thinks the permit should have been
immediately revoked. He also called on school boards to “put a plan
in place to ensure no group is ever targeted as the Jewish community
That sentiment was echoed by PC deputy education critic Rob Milligan.
“I think all boards should be a little more proactive in screening
any individual or groups or organizations that are potentially
renting or leasing space,” said the MPP for Northumberland-Quinte
David Spiro of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said the
madrassah should not be allowed back in a public school regardless.
The board issues about 20,000 permits a year, with some 570 going to
religious groups. It has the right to cancel a permit at any time.
York police are investigating because while the madrassah rents the
space, the program is actually run by the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri
Jamaat of Thornhill.
Neither the madrassah nor the Thornhill mosque have responded to the
Star’s requests for interviews. With files from Louise Brown (©
Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2012 05/17/12)
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