SHAFAQNA- The President of the Manitoba Islamic Association is responding to peoples’ curiosity around the newly established mosque in Winkler.
Dr. Idris Elbakri says it’s more of a gathering space for the growing number of Muslims moving to the Pembina Valley.
“It’s a place for people to gather together to worship, to fellowship, to socialize, to have their children get together and build friendships. It’s not unlike what you would expect would be happening in a small church.”
He adds it can be isolating when there isn’t place for people to practice their faith together, particularly for newcomers to the country.
“The socialization helps people, if they are new, adopt to the new environment and to also stay connected to their culture or heritage of wherever they came from.”
He explains the refugees that are arriving in the region have gone through a lot of hardships and are anxious to settle down in a peaceful place, eager to learn English, get a job and see their kids grow up in a wholesome environment.
Overall, Dr. Elbakri says it’s great that the Pembina Valley is growing and becoming more of a cultural mosaic and hopes this stands to enrich the community as a whole.
“Once you get to know people you just learn how similar we can be while at the same time being able to explore our differences.”
At the end of the day, Elbakri says the prayer area in Winkler is just another Canadian place of worship. In fact, he encourages the public to pay a visit.
“We have a larger mosque in Winnipeg…and we routinely host open houses, last time we had one we had about a thousand people from the community. We also routinely welcome tour groups; schools, churches, what have you.”