The Muslim community in Red Deer is hoping to find a larger home for their place of worship.
The number of Muslims in Red Deer has grown over the years and Jawed Iqbal, spokesman for the Red Deer Islamic Centre, said their current location isn’t big enough.
“We have been searching for a larger space for a while now because our current building was built over 20 years ago. Back then, there was only four or five Muslim families so it was efficient, but now we have up to 1,500 people,” said Iqbal.
Iqbal said he expects that number to keep growing.
“We used to have one Friday service, but that wasn’t enough so we started another. Our second one is almost at full capacity, and we do anticipate, within the next few years, that these two services won’t be enough,” said Iqbal.
With the recent addition of Syrian refugees to the city, Iqbal said having a larger place is especially important.
“Over 200 Syrians refugees have come to Red Deer and most of them are of Muslim faith. As a community, we’re obligated to help integrate them and that process is still going on,” said Iqbal.
For those coming to the city from bigger markets, Iqbal said it can cause problems.
“A lot of the new families come from larger cities and are used to having a lot of community and educational programs. When they come to our centre, they feel it isn’t accommodating all of their needs,” said Iqbal.
Iqbal said the vision for the new space is much more than just a place of worship.
“A place of worship is obviously what we need, but it will be much more than that. It will be a community centre where families can come for community gatherings, educational programs and outreach programs,” said Iqbal.
Iqbal has had a good conversation with the City of Red Deer on how to approach buying a new building, but he said nothing concrete has come out of it.
“Basically, we’re on our own at this point on looking for a place. We will first have to negotiate a deal and then bring it to the city or county and tell them what we plan on doing,” said Iqbal.
The current building is located at 195 Douglas Ave.