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El Forkane Arabic school denied class space at Rosemont College

02/08/2015 12:52 EST | Updated 04/10/2015 05:59 EDT
The co-founder of an Arabic language school for children in Montreal is speaking out after Rosemont College abruptly suspended its space-use contract with the school this weekend.

On its website, language school ElForkane states its mission is teaching Arabic and the fundamentals of Islam. Its classes are aimed at children between the ages of five and 12.

El Forkane had a contract with Rosemont College to use the CÉGEP’s classrooms on weekends for language and cultural instruction.

But the CÉGEP decided to suspend the contract after being made aware of links on the El Forkane website that led to texts claiming secular education was bad for Muslims, according to Rosemont College director Stéphane Godbout.

The links reportedly were connected to a strict ideological movement within Islam called Salafism.

Watch CBC reporter Emily Brass's TV report for the perspective of members of the Silk Road Institute, a cross-cultural organization for Muslims in Montreal.

As a result, the CÉGEP told El Forkane it's no longer welcome to use its classrooms.

The Arabic language school was founded by Ahmed Said Rahmaoui and his brother.

He said Rosemont College has the wrong idea about El Forkane.

"When they say that my brother, or our school, encouraged people to leave public school, that is not true," Rahmaoui said. "That is lying."

Rosemont College overreacting?

A parent who stopped by the school this weekend before realizing El Forkane had cancelled its classes said he hasn't seen the website nor the links in question, but he did say he was familiar with the contents of the course.

"Arabic, a little Qur'an, a little Islam, that's all," the parent said. He said Rosemont College may be overreacting.

Rahmaoui said the links, which have since been removed from the ElForkane website, were there merely to show people different points of view on the relationship between Muslims and secularism.

He said his school’s decision to rent space in a public institution shows its willingness to be transparent.

Rahmaoui said that classes have been cancelled until El Forkane can find a new home.

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