An imam recorded on video making controversial remarks about homosexuality at a Edmonton Islamic school says his comments were taken out of context.
The video posted to YouTube shows Mustafa Khattab, former iman of the Al-Rashid Mosque, telling students at the Edmonton Islamic Academy that being gay is like having diabetes, cancer or AIDS.
In an email statement sent to CBC News Wednesday night, Khattab said he was talking to students last fall during a lunch break, not in a classroom.
He says he was responding to a student’s question about homosexuality and tried to use humour to make a point.
"I agree I might have been unlucky in my choice of words, but I believe the comment was taken out of context and misrepresented," Khattab wrote.
"Whoever reported the comment failed to mention what I said about gays and lesbians being our brothers and sisters in humanity and they shouldn't be discriminated against — even if we might disagree with what they do."
Khattab said that the views expressed were his alone and not representative of school policy.
"To characterize me or the Academy as homophobic and to call for the pulling of funding for private schools is really unfortunate," he added.
On Wednesday, the Alberta Liberals said the Edmonton Islamic Academy is promoting hate and intolerance and called on the province to pull $4 million in funding the school receives each year.
Education Minister Jeff Johnson said his department investigated the comments and was satisfied that the school does not endorse the comments made by Khattab on the video.
Since the video was recorded last fall, Khattab stepped down — for reasons unrelated to his comments — as iman at the Al-Rashid Mosque. He subsequently departed Canada for Egypt.