Edmonton Islamic school criticized for comments about gays

A publicly-funded Islamic school is coming under fire for controversial comments made by an imam about homosexuality.

RAW: Imam's comments on homosexuality


8 years ago
Edmonton Islamic school under fire for imam's anti-gay comments 4:05

A publicly-funded Islamic school is coming under fire for controversial comments made by an imam about homosexuality.

"For me someone who is homosexual is like someone who has diabetes or someone who had cancer or AIDS," said the imam of the Al-Rashid Mosque  while speaking to students at Edmonton Islamic Academy.

"He has a special case and this person needs a special treatment," he said in response to a student's question about being gay. 

The imam goes on to tell a story about his discomfort while in the presence of a gay man.

"Personally, I wouldn't like to be associated with them," he said.

The exchange, which takes place after regular school hours, was caught on video and posted on YouTube.

The Alberta Liberals said the school is promoting hate and intolerance. The Liberals called on the government to pull the school's funding.

"If you want to accept public dollars to run your private school, well then you have to follow the rules and regulations and it can't be your own person fiefdom to protect your values," said Kent Hehr, the Liberal education critic. 

The academy receives about $4 million a year from the province and has a population of about 700 students.

The Liberals said the government should reconsider funding private schools altogether.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson said his department looked into the comments.

"The person who made those comments was not making those comments in a classroom," he said. "He was not an employee of the school. The school does not endorse those comments.

"I'm comfortable that we've sent people in to have a look at this and make sure that it's straight and that school as like every other school we expect is teaching respect to all Albertans and the diversity that we have in this province," Johnson said.

Hehr believes the comments were made in a classroom setting. He said it shows the need for the Alberta Human Rights Act to be incorporated into province's Education Act.