Fake mosque on Canadian Forces base in Alberta raises concerns for Muslim community

As Mahmoud Mourra used to be out looking at the prairie in southern Alberta, he came upon a familiar sight in an unfamiliar location: the dome of a mosque, replete with minaret and crescent image.

Simplest the mosque used to be not real. It was part of a training facility at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield, approximately 250 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

Canadian Forces officials say such coaching amenities want to be as actual as possible to simulate the kinds of environments that squaddies might see on excursion. But for Mourra, who has made a existence in Canada due to the fact that immigrating from Lebanon decades in the past, seeing the construction felt like a betrayal.

“it is a symbol not for terrorists, it’s symbol for Muslims and that i suppose that’s what is the problem,” he said.

“I do consider there’s a systematic problem as a result of this is a tip of the iceberg to peer a field like this in life.”

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Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, stated video of the mosque taken by way of Mourra that began circulating online has raised issues in the Muslim group, especially in light of white supremacist parts within the forces.

“it’s very regarding to take into consideration any such mosque and its presence on any military base,” he mentioned.

“We remember this was a British set up, but to our figuring out, identical constructions and façades of this nature were publish in other bases historically in Canada.”

A spokesperson for the dept of National Defence mentioned the British installation is the only one the dep. is straight away acutely aware of.

“That said, given the sheer size of the Canadian Armed Forces, we would must do a broader pan-CAF take a look at,” Dan Le Bouthillier said in an emailed remark.

Top-fidelity environment

CFB Suffield base commander Lt.-Col. Stephen Burke mentioned the structure is part of a simulated village built in 2006 used completely via British forces. it’s in a “dry” training area — which means no live ammunition is used in the neighborhood.

“Other People could clearly nonetheless be sporting guns, nonetheless doing military coaching, but there has been no shooting at it,” he stated. 

“And as an issue of reality, that is the more or less factor we are actively training to stop.”

the type of training performed there can be simulating life on tour — find out how to behave in every other setting — instead of fight scenarios, Burke said. Canadian Forces have operated equivalent exercises.

Fake mosque on Canadian Forces base in Alberta raises concerns for Muslim community

an army exercise from 2019 by way of reservists integrated key leader engagements in a fictional village. (Pte. Jordyn Anderson/Canadian Army)

Burke stated up till about a decade in the past, simulated buildings have been used across Canada in Afghanistan-like eventualities. He said coaching has when you consider that shifted to a more ad-hoc basis, using sea-can containers as transient structures during workout routines.

“Take it out of context and these things is surprising,” Burke stated.

However “high-fidelity environments,” that is, amenities that look actual, have an important function to play in training, in line with the base commander.

“We want to provide the top fidelity possible just so that means, other folks don’t see this stuff for the first actual time.”

Burke said his figuring out is that the British are planning to dismantle the present facility and transform it for a new training scenario.

‘Kindergarten-level lesson’

Farooq does not buy the argument that this kind of façade should be used in coaching infantrymen what not to do — like attacking a spiritual institution.

“this is type of an excessively neatly understood kindergarten-degree lesson that everybody knows and is aware. Why they would need to take the trouble of constructing a mosque … is past me.”

He would love to peer the deploy got rid of and displayed publicly as a reminder of the tradition and apprehension that grew out of a submit 9/11 international for Canadian Muslims.

“it is a historical past that should be marked and watched very sparsely and observed for generations to come.”

Daniel Minden, press secretary for Defence Minister Anita Anand, mentioned their place of work used to be conscious about the structure.

“There have to be no room for Islamophobia, systemic racism, or non secular bigotry in Canada, and we can at all times condemn it within the most powerful possible phrases,” he stated in an emailed statement.

“Minister Anand believes that affected groups must be consulted to ensure respect and sensitivity in any respect instances.”

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