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Canada: Via Rail revisiting policies after Muslim man told not to pray at Ottawa station

The Muslim Via Rail customer “Ahmed” drew nationwide attention to himself by praying in an “empty hall,” he says, and being rebuked by a security guard for it.

A Muslim site with a guide for Muslim travelers wanting to engage in prayer advises:

Praying in public is often thought of as being intimidating, especially when you’re a traveller far from home. The act of prayer is usually done in discreet, for the quiet is preferred for us to focus on the task at hand.

The site goes on to give tactful advice for the sake of discretion, not “Islamophobia” against its own coreligionists:

“Use web guides and mobile apps to search for prayer spaces”, “visit the local mosque”, “look out for multi-faith halls”, “request to pray in Muslim-owned establishments” or “changing room hacks.”

Ahmed said he went to an “empty hallway” to pray, but clearly there was public access, since he himself had access. Via Rail management reinforced his emotional display, while the usual player — the National Council of Canadian Muslims — charged in to defend him.

Since Via Rail wants to make it clear that all customers can openly pray, then management should have written a simple note to all staff and associates, which would have sufficed. Something like: “Please be advised that we do allow all prayer from all and any group.” And if indeed the hall was empty, as Ahmed said it was, then an internal investigation would have uncovered this, and the entire affair could have been dealt with in the way that everyone else’s grievances are handled.

Intervention by the “Islamophobia” guru NCCM was highly overplayed, with a big, unnecessary politicized uproar, including the blanket accusation against the Via Rail security guard for being “discriminatory” and “Islamophobic.” Yet the guard’s reaction may have been the same if Christians had started worshipping to create a scene. The blatant manipulation of “hurt feelings” in the West by special interest groups, along with the defamatory, constant accusations of “discrimination” and “Islamophobia,” needs to stop.

One also needs to ask the question: what kind of country creates a loud national outcry over a security guard-customer grievance because the customer is a Muslim, while ignoring cases such as the one in Calgary, where young girls were subjected to genuine “shock” and “disrespect” as a male who identifies as a woman change in their swimming pool changing room. Why is the NCCM not dealing with such matters, since it defines itself as a “civil rights” organization?

“Via Rail revisiting policies after Muslim man told not to pray at Ottawa station,” by Michael Woods, CTV News, March 23, 2023:

Via Rail says it is working to improve its diversity and inclusion policies after a Muslim man was told not to pray at the Ottawa train station.

Via Rail and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, a civil rights and advocacy group, issued a joint statement saying they met on Wednesday to discuss the “regrettable and saddening incident.”

The groups “engaged in a constructive dialogue following the regrettable and saddening incident involving a man who was praying in VIA Rail’s Ottawa Station,” the statement said.

“The conversation focused on common objectives, namely, to ensure that VIA Rail provides an inclusive environment where passengers and employees feel safe practising freedom of religion, including the ability to worship.”

The man, Ahmed, told CTV News that after praying in an empty hallway at the train station on Monday, he returned to sit down when a security guard approached him and told him he was not allowed to pray there.

“Don’t pray in here. We don’t want you praying here. You’re bothering our other customers, OK?” the guard said in video of the incident that went viral. “Pray outside next time.”

Ahmed, who did not want his last name used, said the incident left him feeling shocked, hurt and disrespected.

“He made me feel embarrassed. I was just disgusted. Like: this is Canada? This is the nation’s capital? This is Ottawa?” he told CTV News.

Employee removed pending investigation
Via Rail said in the statement Thursday it would share its diversity and inclusion policies with the NCCM and work with the group on “any improvements that could be brought to help prevent these incidents in the future.”

They also reiterated their apology for the incident to the entire Muslim community and said they strongly condemn Islamophobia and any discriminatory behaviour.

Via Rail said the security guard in the video is not a Via employee, but they have asked that he be removed during the investigation.

“VIA Rail has asked our security subcontractor to remove him from any VIA Rail contracts pending the outcome of the investigation,” a spokesperson said.

The NCCM has been in contact with the man who was praying in the station.

“NCCM has also been in contact with the individual involved in the incident and is committed to working with all partners to ensure that together we build a Canada free from Islamophobia,”……



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