By The Canadian Press
TORONTO - Several faith-based groups say they plan to picket the Toronto District School Board's headquarters next week over its decision to allow Muslim prayers in a school cafeteria.
The Jewish Defence League of Canada, along with the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and the Christian Heritage Group, told a news conference they will protest the controversial prayer sessions next Monday.
The prayer services at Valley Park Middle School in the city's north end have been going on for about three years, but recently attracted attention after the Hindu group called for the practice to end.
A local imam leads the prayers in the school's cafeteria on Fridays.
The school started offering the services because Muslim students were missing classes in order to attend prayers at a nearby mosque.
The groups, who spoke critically about Islamic teachings at Monday's news conference, say the school board is showing favouritism to the Islamic faith by allowing the prayer services to take place during school hours.
But the school board has said it is meeting its obligation to accommodate students' religious beliefs by offering more than 300 Muslim pupils a space to pray.
It has also said that only those students who wish to participate attend the service, and the costs are absorbed by the community.
The Toronto District School Board did not immediately comment on Monday's news conference.