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by Mark Steyn


Take a look at this photograph. It appeared in The Toronto Star's education section on Saturday:

It's the scene every Friday at the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto. That's not a private academy, it's a public school funded by taxpayers. And yet, oddly enough, what's going on is a prayer service — oh, relax, it's not Anglican or anything improper like that; it's Muslim Friday prayers, and the Toronto District School Board says don't worry, it's just for convenience: They put the cafeteria at the local imams' disposal because otherwise the kids would have to troop off to the local mosque and then they'd be late for Lesbian History class or whatever subject is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The picture is taken from the back of the cafeteria. In the distance are the boys. They're male, so they get to sit up front at prayers. Behind them are the girls. They're female, so they have to sit behind the boys because they're second-class citizens — not in the whole of Canada, not formally, not yet, but in the cafeteria of a middle school run by the Toronto District School Board they most certainly are.

And the third row? The ones with their backs to us in the foreground of the picture? Well, let the Star's caption writer explains: "At Valley Park Middle School, Muslim students participate in the Friday prayer service. Menstruating girls, at the very back, do not take part."

Oh. As Kathy Shaidle says: "Yep, that's part of the caption of the Toronto Star photo.
Yes, the country is Canada and the year is 2011."

Just so. Not some exotic photojournalism essay from an upcountry village in Krappistan. But a typical Friday at a middle school in the largest city in Canada. I forget which brand of tampon used to advertise itself with the pitch "Now with new [whatever] you can go horse-riding, water-ski-ing, ballet dancing, whatever you want to do", but perhaps they can just add the tag: "But not participate in Friday prayers at an Ontario public school."

Some Canadians will look at this picture and react as Miss Shaidle did, or Tasha Kheiriddin in The National Post:

Is this the Middle Ages? Have I stumbled into a time warp, where "unclean" women must be prevented from "defiling" other persons? It's bad enough that the girls at Valley Park have to enter the cafeteria from the back, while the boys enter from the front, but does the entire school have the right to know they are menstruating?

But a lot of Canadians will glance at the picture and think, "Aw, diversity, ain't it a beautiful thing?" — no different from the Sikh Mountie in Prince William's escort. And even if they read the caption and get to the bit about a Toronto public school separating menstruating girls from the rest of the student body and feel their multiculti pieties wobbling just a bit, they can no longer quite articulate on what basis they're supposed to object to it. Indeed, thanks to the likes of Ontario "Human Rights" Commission chief commissar Barbara Hall, the very words in which they might object to it have been all but criminalized.

Islam understands the reality of Commissar Hall's "social justice": You give 'em an inch, and they'll take the rest. Following a 1988 cease-and-desist court judgment against the Lord's Prayer in public school, the Ontario Education Act forbids "any person to conduct religious exercises or to provide instruction that includes religious indoctrination in a particular religion or religious belief in a school." That seems clear enough. If somebody at Valley Park stood up in the cafeteria and started in with "Our Father, which art in Heaven", the full weight of the School Board would come crashing down on them. Fortunately, Valley Park is 80-90 per cent Muslim, so there are no takers for the Lord's Prayer. And, when it comes to the prayers they do want to say, the local Islamic enforcers go ahead secure in the knowledge that the diversity pansies aren't going to do a thing about it.

Nobody would know a thing about the "mosqueteria" story were it not for the blogger Blazing Cat Fur, whom I was honoured to say a word for in Ottawa a few months back. He broke this story and then saw it get picked up without credit by the Toronto media. He does that a lot. Currently, he's featuring the thoughts of Jawed Anwar, the editor of The Muslim, a publication for Greater Toronto Area Muslims, and of Dr Bilal Philips, a "Canadian religious scholar" who was born in Jamaica but grew up in Toronto and has many prestigious degrees not only from Saudi Arabia but also from the University of Wales, where he completed a PhD in "Islamic Theology". Dr Philips is in favour of death for homosexuals and, as one Canadian to another, Mr Anwar was anxious to explain to his readers that that's nothing to get alarmed about:

Although, there is no clear-cut verse in Qur'an that categorically suggests killing of homosexuals, sayings of Prophet Muhammad suggests three types of sentences, and among that one is death. Bilal Philips is suggesting, based on his opinion on the Qur'anic/Prophetic principles of society. He is not advising the Islamic judiciary to kill any gay person they found, but what he is "suggesting" is judicial punishment of death sentence for those who confess or are seen "performing homosexual acts" by "four reliable witnesses without any doubt."

The essence of Islamic laws is to protect the life of human beings. And it happens that sometimes killing of a person can save thousands and sometimes millions of lives. The Islamic judiciary can punish a person with death sentence to save others' lives.

Okay, great, thanks. Glad you cleared that up. Two eminent "Canadian" Muslims are openly discussing the conditions under which homosexuals should be executed — and doing so in the cheerful knowledge that Commissar Hall, so determined to slap down my "Islamophobia", isn't going to do a thing about their "homophobia". She's more likely to accept a complaint from another "Canadian", Mohammad Baghery, who accuses Michael Coren of the crime of "making fun of Muslims". (Barbara Hall's incoherent thoughts can be heard here: appropriately enough, she sounds like the robot voice that instructs you to buckle your seatbelt.)

Imagine if you're a soi-disant moderate Muslim, genuinely so. You came to Canada because Yemen's a dump, and you don't want to waste your life there. And your daughter loves it, and wants to be Canadian, and be just like the other girls in her street. And then she goes to Valley Park Middle School: What if she doesn't feel it's a religious obligation to attend Friday prayers (as some Muslims argue)? Think there's much chance of being able to opt out easily at Valley Park? What if she wants to dress as she wishes to rather than as the Wahhabi/Salafist imam orders? What if she doesn't want to tell the creepy perve imam whether she's menstruating or not? What, in other words, is her chance of being able to attend Valley Park as a regular Canadian schoolgirl?

I've had cause to mention before Phyllis Chesler's photographs of Cairo University's evolving dress code over the last half-century. Here's how the female students looked in 1978:

In 1978, the female students in Cairo looked little different from the female students at the University of Toronto, or Kingston. Now the schoolgirls of Toronto look no different from Cairo. Ms Chesler's pictures are a story of transformation, but that transformation is not confined to the Middle East. For snapshots of Canada's own particular transformation, one might take Berton père et fils. Until his death in 2004, Pierre Berton was the great popularizer of Canadian history, a man whose best-known soundbite was that "a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe". It wasn't true even then, but it spoke to an agreed national myth. His son, Paul Berton, became the somnolent editor of The London Free Press, who used what little energy he had to protect the tender sensibilities of his city's fast-growing and belligerently assertive Muslim community. His successor is even more protective. From Pierre Berton to Paul Berton is also a story of transformation: A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe in a niqab?

If you didn't know it before that Valley Park photograph, you should now: "Diversity" is where nations go to die. If local Mennonites or Amish were segregating the sexes and making them enter by different doors for religious services in a Toronto grade-school cafeteria, Canadian feminists would howl them down in outrage. But when Muslims do it they fall as silent as their body-bagged sisters in Kandahar. If you're wondering how Valley Park's catchment district got to be 80-90 per cent Muslim is nothing flat, well, Islam is currently the biggest supplier of new Canadians, as it is of new Britons and new Europeans. Not many western statistics agencies keep tabs on religion, but the Vienna Institute of Demography, for example, calculates that by 2050 a majority of Austrians under 15 will be Muslim. 2050 isn't that far away. It's as far from today as 2011 is from 1972: The future shows up faster than you think.

A world that becomes more Muslim becomes less everything else: First it's Jews, already fleeing Malmo in Sweden. Then it's homosexuals, already under siege from gay-bashing in Amsterdam, "the most tolerant city in Europe". Then it's uncovered women, already targeted for rape in Oslo and other Continental cities. And, if you don't any longer have any Jews or (officially) any gays or (increasingly) uncovered women, there are always just Christians in general, from Egypt to Pakistan.

More space for Islam means less space for everything else, and in the end less space for you.

Mohammad Baghery is not Canadian. Jawed Anwar is not Canadian. Dr Bilal Philips is not Canadian. The men who separate boys from girls and menstruating girls from non-menstruating girls every Friday at Valley Park Middle School are not Canadian. Perhaps, were we a different kind of society, they would over time become Canadian. But, because they don't have to, they won't. Because they look at the witless "Pride" parade and the diversity blather and Barbara Hall and Bernie Farber and Co handing each other Mutual Backslap Awards all year long, and Mohammad and Jawed and Bilal understand that they're what comes after Canada. This year it's maybe just one mosqueteria. Next year, two or three more. Half a decade on, who knows? South of the border? The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, for reasons that are unclear, already has a taxpayer-funded "Muslim Community Affairs Unit". But don't worry, your small town in Minnesota will be getting one soon enough. As this Salafist lady told the woman from The New York Times, demonstrating how she gradually adopted full-face covering:

It just takes time... You get used to it.

Look at that picture from Valley Park: Toronto's already used to it.

Mark Steyn is a writer, political commentator and cultural critic. He has authored five books, including "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It." His website is at

This article appeared July 13, 2011 in the Toronto Star Education Section 1022385--board-runs-afoul-of-education-act-with-prayer-services It is archived at Thanks are due Doris Wise Montrose of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors for distributing it.


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