A Montreal CEGEP is defending its decision to sever ties with an Arabic language school for children saying it was perturbed by a link on the school's website that said a secular education is bad for Muslims.
Collège Rosemont cancelled its contract with the El Forkane language school on the weekend after a media report revealed that a document on its website said "secular schools have a negative influence on Muslims and that education not based on religion is a failure."
The school has been teaching Arabic and the basics of Islam to children for the past three years. It rents space from the college for its weekend classes.
During an investigation, the school also discovered an Internet link about "the personality of Muslim military men," said Stéphane Godbout, the CEGEP's director general. "The severity and nature of the acts and the lack of a satisfactory explanation from the school led us to make the decision to cancel the contract," he said.
However, Ahmed Said Rahmaoui, the school's founder, said this is a case of Islamophobia by Collège Rosemont. "It's disgusting," he said. "He talks like he is a judge, and asks me for proof. What does he need proof of? I'm not a terrorist. He should be ashamed."
Rahmaoui said he removed the offending links, so he should be allowed to continue renting space from the school and he called the whole situation a media circus made up by the Journal de Montréal and its affiliated television network TVA.
"The newspaper has come out with insults towards my school and my religion," he said. "They are judging my religion and my culture, because Muslims are seen as terrorists."
Rahmaoui said now he's stuck to find a place for the 150 students that attend his school. "Because of these reports, who is going to agree to rent me space now that the school has been characterized as a school for terrorism? I have the right to teach the Koran. It's protected by the Charter of Rights."
Godbout said the school's decision was based on facts and the fact that the school published the links was enough to cancel the rental contract. He said the CEGEP has students from 90 cultural communities and it's proud of the significant contribution of its many Muslim students.
"We respect students from all cultures," he said.