British Columbia

Imam Balal Khokhar says federal government shouldn't oversee religious institutions

A Imam in Delta, B.C. is wary of comments made by former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who called for the federal government to take greater oversight of religious institutions and private schools to stamp out extremism.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh's suggestions about oversight on religion worries religious leaders.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is calling on the federal government for more oversight of religious institutions and private schools in hopes of fighting extremism. (CBC)

A Imam in Delta, B.C. is wary of comments made by former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who called for the federal government to take greater oversight of religious institutions and private schools to stamp out extremism.

"It's going put those particular denominations that have nothing to do with extremism at all under the pressure," Imam Balal Khokhar told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"Those kinds of statements, what is does is kind of put all the different people who belong to different denominations in one basket, and people start to think that all people are like that."

Khokhar says when an issue does arise within a community, it should be members of that community that deal with it — not the federal government.

Dosanjh's comments also worry Cara Zwibel, a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"We don't believe in the state spying on residents and we're concerned about the strong protection for the freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion that we have in this country and what this kind of idea might do to undermine those freedoms," she told Daybreak South's Chris Walker.

In an interview yesterday, Dosanjh said he didn't feel his suggestion compromised existing freedoms.

"We fund these institutions directly or indirectly with tax dollars. These are extraordinary times and we need to have more rigorous oversight over our private schools and religious institutions."

To hear more from Imam Balal Khokhar, click the audio labelled: Imam wary of more government oversight.

To hear more from Cara Zwibel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, click the audio labelled: Civil Liberties advocate says government shouldn't oversee religious institutions.