Critics urging provincial gov’t to step in over anti-gay remarks made in a school
Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013 6:32PM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2013 6:32PM MDT
Comments made by a speaker at an Edmonton private school with an Islamic focus have created a firestorm in the Alberta Legislature.
In a video posted online, Sheikh Mustafa Khattab of Al Rashid Mosque talks to Junior High Students at the Edmonton Islamic Academy.
His talk was supposed to focus on social interactions between Muslim girls and boys – but the conversation took a turn to sexual orientation.
The video shows Khattab addressing the group of students, where he says “Best thing I like about the west is the freedom, and the worst thing about the west is too much freedom.”
The speaker then goes on to call homosexuality ‘abnormal’, and likening it to a person having diabetes, cancer or AIDS.
In the Alberta Legislature, the Education Minister said his department was handling the issue –Minister Jeff Johnson claimed his department had learned the comments weren’t made in the classroom.
“What we’ve learned is that the person who made those comments was not making those comments in the classroom,” Johnson said. “He was not an employee in the school; he was not in the school, and the school does not endorse those comments.”
However, Liberal Education Critic said otherwise.
“I’m absolutely 100 percent certain this happened in a school environment, during school time, and in an actual class setting,” MLA Kent Hehr said.
The vice-principal of the school confirmed to CTV News that the talk took place in the school last year.
“[The comments] represent his views, and not that of the academy,” Shameze Khan said Wednesday.
CTV News has learned Mustafa Khattab is no longer affiliated with the academy, and he won’t be invited back.
Khan said the anti-gay comments were not part of the program, which was presented to about 200 students.
In the future, Khan said officials will talk with teachers, and there will be guidelines set out for speakers in the future.
Meanwhile, the remarks have critics pushing for change – as the academy receives about $4.5 million from the province each year.
“If you want to accept public dollars to run your private school, then you have to follow the rules and regulations,” Hehr said. “It can’t be your own personal fiefdom to present your values.
“There should be consequences attached to accepting public dollars.”
Minister Johnson said his department became involved in the case last week, and considered the issue ‘addressed’
As for the school - where one person stood outside holding a sign protesting the comments - Khan is concerned the situation may be misinterpreted.
“Not only this can make us be misinterpreted, there are many things that can make us misinterpreted.”
With files from Serena Mah