Dispute between local Muslim group and Lessard residents heats up
Published Friday, August 20, 2010 7:40PM EDT
A local Muslim association is threatening legal action over a recent letter in a west Edmonton publication. The submission was written anonymously but CTV News has learned the Lessard Community League is behind the letter.
The controversial letter expresses concerns that religious extremism could seep into the teachings of a new Islamic school being proposed for the neighbourhood.
The Muslim Association of Canada plans to build a Kindergarten to Grade 9 school upstairs at its current mosque at the Lessard strip mall. Some people who live in the area have complained the expansion will create too much traffic in the area and that there's just not enough space for the development. But some of the opposition raised in the letter includes concern that the local association is linked to Islamic extremists.
"The Muslim brotherhood is an organization that has been banned in most Islamic countries," complained Safwat Girgis, the vice-president of the Lessard Community League. Girgis says the controversial letter is backed by 60 per cent of area residents who signed a petition opposing the new project.
Members of the local Muslim community attending the mosque for Friday prayers are speaking out. They say they're being unfairly targeted, in light of recent controversy surrounding the decision to build a mosque at New York's Ground Zero.
"All around North America, the media is feeding to you that Islam is bad," said Waseem Abdel. "And that's what people are starting to believe, that Muslims are bad."
One man who believes both in his faith and his community is trying to quell concerns by offering a gesture of good will.
"For the community leaders, definitely come into the mosque. See what programs we're doing. See what it's all about," said Momin Saeed.
The publisher of West End News declined an on-camera interview but says she's considering shutting down her publication because of the controversy this has caused.
With files from CTV's Jessica Earle.