John Alabi, a Brampton landlord who was ordered by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to pay a couple $12,000 because he failed to accommodate their religious practices, tells The Rebel’s Faith Goldy his side of the story.
On April 19, 2017, the Tribunal’s adjudicator, Jo-Anne Pickel, ruled that Alabi also discriminated against the couple based on their creed and harassed them by creating a “poisoned housing environment”. In addition to the compensation, Albai was ordered to take the e-learning module on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s website called “Human Rights in Rental Housing”.
Madkour and Ismail claimed Among other things that landlord entered wearing shoes the apartment and the room in which they used to pray and thus caused them inconvenience. The couple, who immigrated from Egypt to Montreal and later to Toronto, and who identify as Arab Muslims, testified that they practice their religion by praying five times a day. According to the husband, the prayers take between 7-10 minutes if he prays alone and up to 15 minutes if he prays with his wife.
The couple prayed in the bedroom of the apartment they rented from the landlord because the bedroom was the cleanest room in the apartment. According to the couple, it is important to pray in a clean area that is free of any contamination, including any discharge from humans or animals.
According to the wife, a person cannot be absolutely certain that he or she did not step on discharge from animals or humans while walking outside. For this reason, according to the couple, practicing Muslims must remove their footwear when they pray.
The couple also testified that if someone interrupts their prayers, they lose focus and their prayers are “damaged”. The wife also said that if she was not at home or near a mosque, she would pray in her car as she always carried her prayer mat with her.
The adjudicator ruled that the landlord made the couple feel “uncomfortable” and demonstrated religious discrimination when he failed to remove his shoes in the couple’s apartment after the couple explained to the adjudicator that “if someone wore outdoor shoes in their prayer space, they would have to wash the space several times to cleanse it”. She took into consideration the wife’s claim that she was intimidated by the landlord’s “general demeanor”, such as failing to take off his outdoor shoes in their apartment.
See also: Islamic rulings – “The Prophet Mohammad and his companions used to pray in their shoes”, Praying on a clean mat on unclean surface is permissible – click HERE
In an interview with Faith Goldy Albai said the following:
When you deal with anybody that brings up religion to get even with you, be very careful. And when they are telling you they are going to Human Rights Court, know that you are doomed because you are not going to come out of that place alive…
I am so disappointed in the human rights, and you know what, this is no human right. If the human rights want to represent the human beings that they always call without any bias or their name human righyts. I say human rights, what human rights is dead if a Muslim couple insisted that I should remove my shoes or request that I remove my shoes in their house and I didn’t oblige, what about my rights to say yes or no? Is that human right? Where is that human right path?…
It’s been going on since 2015. It got to a point where I had to drop the lawyer that I hired and go for paralegal because I could not just afford the stress, the embarrassment, the financial problems, the financial weight it had on me and to the point we have arrived I have to just go along with whatever comes around me in terms of legal representation. For them, they got everything for free. They have a human right lawyer, probably top-class to middle-class lawyer, that took their case right from the beginning to the end because everything’s available for these people to use to get to whatever they want to get in society. You know what, this is one of the biggest hole in the whole system…
Do they have any choice? This is what is going to happen. Believe me, I am here today, you look out, all that people, many many more of that people will pass through this route, and you know what, God help them, because right now I am so incapacitated, I am so… You know what, I don’t even know how best I can say this because even on my own property I have to be subjected to these kind of rules and regulations because of the belief of another person.