Canada: Muslim told he cannot pray in Ottawa train station
By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA): A Muslim man received an apology after he was told he could not pray in an Ottawa train station but Canada’s largest Muslim organization said more needs to happen, according to a report Wednesday.
Viral video of the encounter between the man and a security guard was posted to TikTok by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).
“It’s hard to watch,” NCCM spokesperson Fatema Abdalla told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “To think that, no, individuals can’t feel safe being able to practice their religion .. .is disturbing — not just to the individual in the video, but to every single Muslim who thinks that they are at peace and safe to pray in public spaces.”
He posted about the incident on the Instagram: “I was at the via rail station in Ottawa. So i went to pray before I leave. I go to this EMPTY hallway and I’m in the corner minding my own business praying my 2 because I’m travelling (literally less than 5 minutes) I finish praying and come back to where I left my stuff and my coworker tells me the security guard said you cant pray here. And I’m like wtf? I thought she was trolling. But then the security guard came yelling “dont pray here”. I mentally said.. “wtf? are we not in canada? why am i not allowed to pray here? He said “no praying allowed here. Go outside and pray” By this time i noticed 3-4 people recording. I said “that’s really all you have to say?” He said “dont pray in this building, we dont allow that you’re bothering our customers”. I just had to keep my cool and not lose my mind. Im just thinking and saying out loud “we’re in Canada’s capital in ottawa and you’re being racist because i was minding my own business and praying?”He said “dont pray here”. And said “im gonna complain to your employer right now” and went into some office. By then a couple people came to check on me. And said don’t mind him this isnt ottawa we apologize keep doing your thing you’re not bothering anyone.
Then the dude that recorded went and complained at the front desk and their staff came. He sent me the video and was just disgusted in what he seen himself.
(Not sure how that plays any factor) but that was just a disrespectful, racist and awful situation to be apart of. It was disgusting to say the very least.
How can this be happening in my home country canada… not the states… CANADA.”
After the video was posted Monday, VIA Rail, a government corporation, apologized “unreservedly … to the entire Muslim community” and promised an investigation.
The security guard told the man he could not pray in the train station because “you’re bothering our other customers.”
The man said he prayed at the end of the hallway and no one objected.
“Pray outside next time, OK?” said the guard. The man refused and the guard said he would tell the man’s employer. But it was the guard’s employer that got upset.
“Via Rail strongly condemns and will not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour,” VIA Rail said in a statement. “Freedom of religion, including the ability to worship, is a human right and is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
But Abdalla said the apology is insufficient.
“We’re moving to see more than just words,” she said. “What we need to see is commitments to change, and commitments to anti-Islamophobia training, anti-racism training and diversity training that can provide security guards and others at the stations some more knowledge on how to treat individuals who are just peacefully minding their own business and praying in a corner.”
Additional report by The Muslim News
[Map of Canada from CIA Factbook/Public Domain]
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