Imam Bashir Hareed answered questions from Holy Family School students when they toured the Red Deer Islamic Centre on Tuesday.

Holy Family School students visit neighbourhood mosque

Imam welcomes schools

About 80 Grade 2 students from Holy Family School reached out to Red Deer Islamic Centre with cards of support and friendship on Tuesday.

Teacher Cathy Ratzlaff said the school’s administration contacted the Islamic centre after a youth left a hateful message scrawled in the snow outside the center on Feb. 19.

The Catholic elementary school and the Islamic centre are located a few blocks from each other in Deer Park and she said administration wanted the local Muslim community to know there was support for them in the neighbourhood.

The youth has since turned himself in. Charges were not laid and the restorative justice process was used instead as the youth was remorseful and wanted to reach out to Islamic centre members who welcomed the opportunity.

Ratslaff said the resulting forgiveness and reconciliation was also a good lesson for students.

Instead of just dropping off their cards, students were invited to tour the mosque and meet with Imam Bashir Hareed.

“All in all, an absolutely incredible experience. Incredible for the kids. Incredible for us,” said Ratzlaff after the tours and time with Hareed.

Hareed thanked school administration for suggesting that students visit.

“It’s a fantastic idea. We really thank the Holy Family School for thinking of initiatives like that,” Hareed said.

It may encourage other schools to ask to visit the mosque and they could get a similar tour, he said.

The centre opened its doors in 1994 and is now raising money to build a bigger mosque. About 80 to 90 Muslims regularly attend Friday services.

He said membership jumped last year when 50 Syrian families moved to Red Deer. The majority are Muslim.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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