Manchester, Missouri: Christian group closes Muslim school

The Muslim Al Salam Day School off Weidman Road is closed Friday due to a Christian group’s promise to tout Christianity at the location, school officials said.

A letter, that reads as follows, was sent home to parents telling them there was no school on Friday. “Earlier this week we had informed members and parents of the community about a protest that will be taking place outside of the Islamic Foundation Property tomorrow. Due to the overwhelming incoming of increasing safety concerns from parents and teachers, we have decided to cancel school and after school activities for tomorrow, Friday, March 9.”

Ghazala Hayat with the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis tells Patch that the group Reclaiming Missouri for Christ contacted St. Louis County Police to inform them the group planned to distribute literature during the Dar-Ul-Salam Mosque’s prayer services Friday between noon and 2 p.m. The Islamic Foundation offices, mosque and school are all located on the same property off Weidman Road.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, approximately ten representatives of Reclaiming Missouri for Christ were just off the day school grounds where they were accompanied with just as many members of the St. Louis area media.

Hayat said the Islamic Foundation was informed by police of the group’s pending appearance Wednesday, then decided to close the school as a precaution. “The past two or three times the group came, the literature was so inflammatory against the Muslim religion,” Hayat said. “Nothing happened but people were reading it and and getting so upset.”

Al-Salam member Faizan Syed, 23, of Kirkwood, said he has seen members of Christian groups issue informational handouts near the Mosque before, although Reclaiming Missouri for Christ representatives said Friday was the first time the group appeared at Al-Salam. “They’re actually really hate materials when you read them,” Syed said.

In addition to a booklet that translates select portions of the Christian Gospel of John, Reclaiming Missouri for Christ representatives handed out a sheet of paper that made several controversial assertions about Muhammad, a sacred figure among Islam considered by Muslims to be a prophet of God who is cited as the religion’s founder. Excerpts from the handout included the following statements:

• “Jesus never killed anyone! Muhammad killed many.”

• “Jesus never married. Muhammad had many wives and even had sex with a nine year-old.”

• “Jesus died and rose from the dead. Muhammad died and stayed dead.”

When confronted about the allegations in the handouts, Reclaiming Christ for Missouri Pastor Mark Kiser said the materials only represented what appears in The Bible.

Manchester Patch, 9 March 2012