News Agencies – October 8, 2012
Zain Esseghaier has been a Charlottetown, Prince Edward Islam resident for the last 33 years, married an islander and raised a family here. Though his modest two-story mosque has been the target of three serious threats over the past year — last week a bottle of gasoline was left at the entrance and the structure plastered with “Defeat Jihad” posters — he remains steadfast, refusing to be intimidated.
Four years ago, the native of Tunisia and his fellow Muslim Society of P.E.I. members set about finally acquiring their own place of worship. A cross-country fundraising campaign raised about $500,000, enough to purchase a plot of land in an industrial park and build Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque. Last October, two days after a community celebration to mark the official groundbreaking at the site, a pig’s head was left nailed to a post on the property. Just over a month ago, a contractor’s truck parked near the mosque overnight was set ablaze.
In all, P.E.I. boasts roughly 500 Muslim residents, most of whom live in Charlottetown and pray together. Before having their own mosque, they would worship wherever they could find the space, from a temporary basement mosque to gymnasiums to university classrooms. Building the mosque was a way of retaining the province’s Muslim population, said the society’s president Najam Chishti.