Red Deer Islamic Center opens its doors to the community

Monthly Peace Cafes will be held to continue the dialogue with other Central Albertans

Hard questions and support were both voiced by non-Muslim visitors at a public open house at the Red Deer Islamic Center.

A “respectful dialogue” was started when about 100 people came through the Deer Park mosque on Sunday. The successful exchange sparked a decision by centre staff to hold monthly Peace Cafes to have an on-going conversation with the community.

“The feedback was very positive” — both from visitors and their Muslim hosts, who answered questions about a variety of topics, said the centre’s media spokesperson Jawed Iqbal.

Muslim integration into Canadian society, responses to terrorism, and other “taboo” topics were discussed because they are on people’s minds, he added.

Members of the centre at 195 Douglas Ave. were hoping to reach area residents who fear Muslims. “To be honest, we want to engage those people, to understand where they are coming from … We might not be able to change minds, but at least it gives us an opportunity to have a dialogue,” said Iqbal.

This second-annual open house at the centre was originally set for this summer, but was moved up after the Jan. 29 shooting at a Quebec City mosque that resulted in six people being killed and 19 injured.

Iqbal said local Muslims wanted to thank the Red Deer community for many expressions of condolence, flowers and cards, and a vigil attended by about 250 people last week to express opposition to extremist violence.

The goal of the open house was to strengthen ties — not only for non-Muslims, but also for Islamic Centre members who feel shy about interacting with people outside their faith. Iqbal said, “They feel (other) people don’t like Muslim people because of some preconceived notions.”

He feels the moderate, inclusive views shared on Sunday made many people realize that the two groups’ value systems are not so far apart.

The same sentiment was expressed Paul Harris, who attended the open house and told his fellow Red Deer city councillors at Monday’s meeting that it was a positive way to promote understanding.

The dialogue will continue at 40-minute Peace Cafe sessions held at the centre each month. Anyone interested can come “sit down with us, have some tea, coffee and cookies and start a conversation … We want to be open about it, and have a frank discussion,” said Iqbal.

The first session will be held at 6:30 p.m. this Friday. The Islamic Centre, which has partnerships with United Churches in Red Deer, Delburne and Lacombe, is open for prayers five times a day — so if even if people can’t make the monthly meetings as posted on the centre’s Facebook page, another time can be arranged to answer questions, said Iqbal.

Just Posted

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

Popular Red Deer store to apply for cannabis dealer licence

At least one Red Deer store hopes to sell cannabis out of… Continue reading

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

Latest Red Deer Hospital Lottery launched

Ticket purchases opened on Friday

WATCH: Day-long hockey game at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School in Red Deer

An all-day hockey game was held at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School Friday

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

WATCH: Cat yoga — the purr-fect de-stresser, says Red Deer-area cafe owner

Felines and humans stretch together each month at Alley Cat Cafe

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

Judge critical of sentencing laws

Court of Queen’s Bench justice argues sentencing options for first-degree murder too limited

Liberals write off $200 million in student loans feds will never collect

The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding… Continue reading

Trudeau takes wing on trade mission to India, where Sikh politics loom

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to India,… Continue reading

Judge: Parole for triple-murderers based on many factors

Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank could have faced life in prison with no parole for 75 years for the Castor-area murders

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month