Muslim told he cannot pray in Canadian train station

Muslim told he cannot pray in Canadian train station

VIA Rail apologizes but Muslim association says it is not enough

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."

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."


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