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UPDATE: Christian Group Closes Al-Salam Muslim Day School

The Al-Salam Day School off Weidman Road canceled classes Friday after a Christian group informed police of plans to issue handouts during Friday's prayer services.

Editor's Note: This article was last updated at 2:52 p.m.

The Muslim 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 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  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. All parties Patch spoke with Friday said the afternoon was peaceful and without incident.

Officers Kendall and Burgess of the St. Louis County Police Department, who declined to give their first names, said they are on site every Friday to ensure safety and facilitate traffic.

“Everything's normal,” Kendall said. “There's never been chaos.”

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."

Hayat said she expected the group's appearance to be peaceful. Class was canceled at a safety precaution this time because the group has never contacted police before, she said.

"So we don't know what they are planning," Hayat said. "We have requested people to stay calm and told them they can refuse to take the literature, but you never know because people can get very upset because they are insulting our religion in their literature."

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.”

“It's a lot of lies and distortion about Muslims,” Syed said.

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.

“Well if they're talking about Romans and John, then I guess they're calling it a hateful word. Because Romans and John is straight out of the Bible—the Holy Bible,” Kiser said.

Rick Eckhard, with St. Louis County Police, tells Patch that there are a few officers on stand-by at the mosque Friday afternoon.

"Actually we're sending officers out there because of the media attention. The group contacted us. They said they're going to be handing out literature and we're not going to do anything but be there on stand-by," Eckhard explained.

He said he did not not expect any issues Friday and that it is not uncommon for groups who plan to make a peaceful appearance to notify local police.

"I don't think there is any reason for police involvement. We're obviously there to watch and monitor," Eckhard said. 

John Chasnoff, a program director with the American Civil Liberties Union who was on site Friday, said Reclaiming Missouri for Christ seemed to be a peaceful group.

“I can understand that there is a very different perspective that may find this offensive."

Still, Chasnoff said, the group appeared to be obeying the law and within their First Amendment rights guaranteeing free speech.

"So far it's been minimally disruptive to the community," Chasnoff said. "I think the members of this community have handled themselves with good humor and are taking this in stride.”

Christine March 09, 2012 at 08:11 PM
So so much for freedom of religion. Now, we're harrassing other people during their worship services because they don't align with our's? I am a very angry and embarrassed Christian. Shame on you, so called, "Reclaiming Missouri for Christ." Jesus would NOT approve of what you're doing to our Muslim friends.
Kurt Greenbaum March 09, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Thanks, Christine. Good perspective on this situation.
James March 10, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Freedom of religion is a wonderful aspect of our country, however this is not applicable without question when other laws are violated and violence is the end objective. Islam has an ongoing history of violence worldwide. The police stormed the Waco compound in Texas so laws apply to religions.
Kurt Greenbaum March 10, 2012 at 01:12 AM
James, I'm sure the point is not to indict all Muslims because a small minority of them are terrorists. And what about Christian terrorists? Timothy McVeigh comes to mind.
James March 10, 2012 at 01:44 AM
McVeigh was Roman Catholic and i'm not convinced we were told everything about the OKC Murrah disaster. The Islamic violence i'm sepcifically referring to is demographic shifts allowing them to take over nations; Yugoslavia, Chechnya & several African nations have fell to muslim immigration as Islam comes in with multiple wives and replaces the gov't, then the violence begins and churches are burned (videos on youtube). There are no examples of Christians doing this and not relevant to defending our nation and Constitution against the self governed Muslim state they want to establish.(see Radical Islam on youtube)
James March 10, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Perhaps this Christian group could spend their time better organizing against immigration and amnesty. It was recently reported ICE were to stop checking for illegals on the northern border where many of the Muslims come aeross. Also opposing wars is a good idea since their destroyed homelands results in more emigration & amnesty.
Patti B. March 10, 2012 at 02:26 AM
How would this Christian group respond if Muslim reps came to their school/church and handed out literature? Though it is their right the Christian group could have better used their time volunteering or assisting elsewhere is our down-trodden society. Shame on them for disrupting the school day of innocent children!
Kurt Greenbaum March 10, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Well, it's very difficult to debate someone who twists the facts to suit their own world view. Please enjoy the world you live in.
Paul Alban March 11, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Jesus would be proud of these brave Christians distributing literature against false religions. Remember, Jesus threw so many righteous insults against the Pharisees and undermined the people's confidence in them, and asserted that he was the one and true Messiah and Son of God, that the Pharisees retaliated by killing him! The Bible urges us to teach and rebuke the faithless, because the Religion of God is not a lukewarm matter.
Collin Reischman March 13, 2012 at 01:07 AM
This is the kind of backwards, abhorrent, embarrassing behavior that firmly establishes places like Manchester as breeding grounds for frightened yuppy, racists. These kinds of protests and rallies are just thinly veiled hate-gatherings: a group of self-righteous Christians using their freedom to assemble to abuse and harass children while spreading blatantly false literature. This is a sham, a complete mockery of the teachings of Christ (you know, the guy who wanted us to forgive our enemies and love our neighbors) and a pathetically one-dimesional view of the Islamic religion. Christians have no right to preach against the practices of Islam until they are prepared to answer for the millions of Jews, Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Aborigines and fellow whites that have been exterminated in the name of their God.
Ellisville Resident 1 March 13, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I had to nod my head yes when I read this line, ""Actually we're sending officers out there because of the media attention. The group contacted us. They said they're going to be handing out literature and we're not going to do anything but be there on stand-by," Eckhard explained." Isn't it the over-zelous opportunist media that always tries to turn peaceful demonstrations into chaos for the sake of a story, a raise for the reporter, a dollar for the company? What's funny is the comment below from reporter Kurt Greenbaum to Christine, "Thanks, Christine. Good perspective," as if Kurt even knows what a good perspective is. It's laughable!!

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