Vancouver police board to meet at a mosque for the first time

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      The Vancouver police board makes an effort to conduct its business at a community venue at least once a year.

      In the past, the panel chaired by mayor Gregor Robertson has met in places like the Ross Street Sikh temple and the Musqueam cultural pavilion.

      This Thursday (June 15), the board will meet at a mosque for the first time, as far as people in the know can recall.

      The meeting at the Masjid Jami'a Mosque (655 West 8th Avenue) comes in the midst of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims.

      Haroon Khan, a trustee of the mosque, and Patti Marfleet, executive director of the police board, cannot recall a past meeting that was held at a mosque.

      Khan said that the community looks forward to hosting the board at its meeting starting at 1 p.m.

      “This goes towards what a mosque is. A mosque is not just a place of worship. It’s also a place to exchange ideas. It’s a place to discuss things that happen within one’s own community,” Khan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      “So this kind of engagement really gets back to the roots of who we are as a people, and as engaged citizens,” Khan continued. “As Muslims … it’s very important to engage.”

      According to him, the community appreciates the outpouring of support from other for the Muslim community in the wake of the January 29, 2017 shooting at a Quebec City mosque, which left six dead and 19 wounded.

      Haroon Khan is a trustee of the Masjid Jami'a Mosque.

      The Masjid Jami'a Mosque is the main mosque in the city.

      In talking about the significance of the police board meeting at the mosque, the Vancouver-born Khan also made reference to Islamic extremism.

      “We see all these problems that occur outside, you know, people who say they are Muslim, and they do terrible things,” Khan said. “That’s completely unacceptable to us.”

      “And one of the things that we want to do by hosting programs like this is to show that … we’re good people… Muslims in and out of themselves … we represent more than a quarter of the world’s population, and so we are as mainstream as you can get. And it’s important that we work together, that we plan together, and that we do together.”

      Khan recalled that the mosque has hosted interfaith meetings in the past: “We’ve had the churches, the synagogues, the temples, the agnostics—we’ve had these people come to our mosque.”

      According to him, Mayor Robertson is a “dear friend of the mosque” as well to him.

      Khan is the former president of the Pakistan-Canada Association, an organization founded by his father in 1963.

      The association manages the Masjid Jami'a Mosque.