NCCM Responds to Supreme Court Dismissal of Webber Academy Case on Religious Accommodation

-For Immediate Release-

Decision means complainants must re-litigate reasonable accommodation case 8 years on

(Ottawa – February 28, 2019) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, today expressed its disappointment at yet another delay of justice in the Webber Academy case. The case involves two Canadian Muslim students whose constitutionally protected rights to religious accommodation were denied when they were prevented from praying at Webber Academy, a non-denominational private school in Calgary.

“Today’s decision is not a win for Webber Academy, nor is it a win for the two students and their families,” said NCCM’s Executive Director, Ihsaan Gardee.

“Both parties are now back to ‘step one’ of the judicial process and will have to re-litigate the case before the Human Rights Tribunal after having already invested eight years worth of time, energy and resources in taking this all the way to the Supreme Court. This is especially disheartening for the students, now young men, who will be unable to close the door on this ordeal and move on after all these years,” added Gardee.

Citing ‘technical errors’ in the way the case was handled, the Supreme Court’s dismissal today upholds a 2018 decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal requiring the case to return to the Human Rights Tribunal on the basis of constitutional questions that could and should have been raised by Webber earlier on.

Despite expressing their disappointment about today’s decision, the families of the students remain committed to continue their fight for the right to religious accommodation.

“It’s the same ordeal all over again… But to seek justice sometimes you have go through these hoops. There is no turning back.  This is our basic right, we need to keep going. We feel no burden, we feel light – and if I have to do this until the day I die, I will. It’s a fight for all the people who have rights, not just Muslims,” Shabham Nazar, the mother of Naman Siddique (one of the boys who was prevented from praying at Webber), told NCCM today.

More details about the long history of this case are available in a previous statement, here.

For more information on religious accommodation in schools, refer to NCCM’s ‘Educators Guide to Islamic Religious Practices’.

The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization that is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

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