Muslim prayer in Quebec zoo sparks backlash

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Parc Safari is defending a group of Muslims after a video posted on social media criticized them for holding prayers on the grounds of the Hemmingford, Que., zoo.

The Facebook video posted Sunday shows the group observing one of five daily calls to prayer at the zoo about 60 kilometres south of Montreal.

The video’s caption, translated from French, says, “I find it inappropriate that at Parc Safari on a Sunday afternoon we hear prayers on the speakers. Can you just do this in your living room and not impose it on me please!”

Véronique Ranger, a Parc Safari spokesperson, said the Muslim association members followed all the park’s rules, including bringing their own speakers and not using the park’s sound system.

Ranger said zoo visitors were offended even though the group didn’t solicit other visitors, wasn’t disrupting other guests or animals, and didn’t block any paths.

On Parc Safari’s Facebook page, some said they were disappointed with the park’s decision to allow prayers on its grounds.

Parc Safari said in a news release that despite the backlash, the park remains committed to being an inclusive space where everyone is welcome regardless of religion, nationality, skin colour, culture or sexual orientation.

Prayers in public spaces is poised to become an issue more often and in the most unlikeliest of places, in this case it is the zoo of all places! -CINEWS

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