Where will P.E.I. Muslims go to pray?

Muslims want the government to help fund a mosque for the Island

Call it Little Mosque on the Island. Last week, the CBC ran a news story about a Muslim doctor whose efforts to build the first mosque in P.E.I. have thus far come to naught. The “disappointed” doctor asked the province for financial assistance, only to be “turned down.”

The CBC story also suggested that there was reason to believe the city might step in. It quoted Charlottetown Coun. David MacDonald as saying he would be willing to meet with Muslims and “see if the city can assist in building a mosque.” But when Maclean’s spoke to MacDonald, he said, “We wouldn’t give any assistance to a religious group any more than we would to anybody else. We don’t provide financial assistance to any kind of developer.” The meeting, MacDonald says, will be little more than an “information session.”

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When interviewed by Maclean’s, the doctor (who asked to remain anonymous, citing “upsetting” online responses to the CBC story) was still adamant that the province should step in to help the Island’s 250-300 Muslims, but stressed that he is not looking for a government handout. “We’re not looking for something for free,” he says. “Our main goal was to get a loan without interest, or cheap land, or a cheap building.”

The doctor worries that the province will pay a dear price if it doesn’t lend a hand. By his estimates, “two or three” Muslims, two of whom are doctors, have already left the Island because it lacks a place of worship—a big loss for a province struggling with an acute doctor shortage. “If [the government] thinks [building a mosque] is going to make professionals stay, they should go for it.”

Ultimately, he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to stay in P.E.I.: “At a certain point, when my kids grow up, I may have to leave. And I’d feel really bad—who is going to take care of these patients?”