After vandals drew hostile messages across the walls of a Guelph mosque in early March, the Muslim Society of Guelph held an open house to educate community members. Guelph Community Christian School principal Bob Moore was amongst the 300 people to attend the April 6 event.
Moore says he chose to do so partly because he was asked by the board of the directors of the mosque. “I feel close enough to him to respect that invitation,” he says.
He wanted to show that “though we cannot give religious support, we can give moral support,” Moore says.
He also felt compelled because the society is located in a building Guelph Community Christian School formerly occupied.
“I felt bad that someone in the neighbourhood had not treated them well,” Moore says. He was amongst the many guests to sign his name to a pledge against Islamophobia during the event.
A small number of families with ties to the Christian school also attended the open house.
“We think the best way to educate people is to open our doors,” the Muslim Society of Guelph president Muhammed Sayyed told guests at the open house, according to a report from the Guelph Mercury.
Sayyed said he found the demonstration of support from the community “overwhelming” and noted the society intended to “treat this as a celebration, to show people who we are and what we’re doing here.”
“We hope everyone here goes and tells 10 more people across the dinner table or in the coffee shop,” Sayyed said.
Several city government officials also spoke at the open house. They condemned the acts of vandalism and applauded the local community for rallying behind the society.
“We stand beside you,” MP Frank Valeriote said to representatives of the Muslim society present. “You do not suffer this alone.”
Participating in this gathering fits into the broader context of the Christian community’s active engagement in societal issues in that though Christian schools are private they must show they benefit the public, Moore says.
“Christian organizations must show that they are not afraid of other faiths and/or cultures,” Moore adds.
“Christian organizations must stand beside other faiths when they are persecuted, because if we allow the persecution of other faiths, then we might be next.”
Guelph Community Christian School is a member of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).
To read the Guelph Mercury article, click here.