By The Estevan Review WINNIPEG BUREAU
Fri. March 10th, 2017 14:00
It has been reported that Saudi Arabia’s holiest and most sacred spiritual body has been eyeing Emerson, Manitoba in Canada for a new $25,000,000 religious centre development.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh has delivered the news to the Islamic Society Of The Prairies through a telegram on the holy day of the Islamic calendar, Friday. “It’s absolutely wonderful, Allahu Akbar,” said local Imam of the Emerson Mosque, Abdi al Abdullah al Akbar II. Emerson, Manitoba has been coping with an influx of predominately Muslim refugees, mostly escaping the United States and originating from the war torn Middle East since Donald Trump came to power. Just last week, Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale visited Emerson and provided financial reinforcements to local firefighters with an additional $30,000 grant while
assuring the public that safety of would-be refugees is his utmost priority. Imam al Akbar II told The Estevan Review that the money would be used “as an education centre that has the potential to attract Muslim students who wish to study Islam from all across the world, an Islamic outreach center and also feature an Islamic daycare.” It would also feature a Halal kitchen and small abattoir, which would ultimately cater Halal products to the Muslim population in the Prairie provinces and states such as North Dakota and Minnesota. “We see this as a large scale investment in the community, in Canada and for all Muslims in the area,” said Imam Al Akbar II.
EMERSON HAS A GROWING ISLAMIC POPULATION
According to StatsCan, in 2015, Emerson only had two Muslims; by the end of 2016, the population had spiked to at least 1000 with the projection to at least triple by the end of 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far promised to keep the borders open and free to all who seek refuge and escape from the instability brought by Donald Trump’s administration.
“It’s hard to keep up with all the refugees, we don’t even know who they all are. Before Emerson was a place you could recognize and know everyone; today it’s like you see new faces everyday and then they are sometimes gone by tomorrow,” said local outreach administrator, Sarah Cumberland of the Emerson Winter Welcome Center. “They have lot’s of special needs, like: halal food that requires importation from Winnipeg, lots of special baby products as many have up to 12 children, many are in dire need of medical care and its getting harder to accommodate as we were already short staffed- medically speaking, prior to the influx of new residents,” said Cumberland.
MIXED EMOTIONS FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS
“I am so glad that we as a small rural town can help these people, it’s what we are all about,” said Justin Johnson 32, who has lived in Emerson all of his life and volunteers his time to various political causes.
Not all were delighted or filled with joy, most Emerson residents The Estevan Review spoke with had extreme concerns about the mostly, unvetted refugees, crossing their border in the middle of the night. “It’s absolutely terrifying, alarming, it’s getting harder to sleep at night,” said Becky O’Connor, 49, who has also lived in small town Emerson her entire life.
“It’s like you don’t even want to open your door anymore, you just don’t know who is there. The entire process is guarded in secrecy and they never report who these people are or where they come from, it’s so terrible.”
FAST PACED “RACE AGAINST CLOCK” PROJECT COMPLETE BY 2020
The Emerson, MB Islamic Center is expected to be called, “The Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh Emerson Islamic Center,” and is expected to open up fully by 2020. Bits and pieces are expected to commence immediately to accommodate refugees crossing the border, seeking asylum under the far kinder and generous Justin Trudeau Liberal government then potential persecution at home by Trump. “We would like to have this Islamic Center built by the end of the 2019, just because we see Justin Trudeau as a safety net and can’t predict how a potential future Conservative government will deal with the influx of desperate asylum seekers,” said Imam Al Akbar II.
/cck for The Estevan Review