The Canadian Armed Forces reported to VICE World News that British Forces had erected a fake mosque on a military base in Canada. However, said that it was not being used as a training ground with live ammunition.
A Muslim man, Mahmood Mourra, who was hunting with his friends, said he stumbled across the fake mosque in the Alberta prairie, about 250 km southeast of Calgary.
In an interview, Mourra, who was an immigrant who came from Lebanon right after 9/11, said that he was aggravated and confused when he saw it and began to feel that he was not in a safe place.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Lena Angell, director of the army’s public affairs, the mosque was built by British soldiers in 2006 as part of a simulated village used as a training ground for British soldiers for the war in Afghanistan.
However, Angell explained that the fake mosque, which is expected to be deconstructed next year, was only used for non-live fire training, and it was never used by the Canadian soldiers.
A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed that the mosque was being used with a cultural advisor to educate soldiers on appropriately interacting with Muslims and respecting the protected site. He added that the mosque was never targeted with any form of munitions.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said that many Canadian Muslims are skeptical of the idea that the mosque was being used to teach soldiers not to attack it as the construction of mosques, for this reason, is deeply concerning.
Angell said the Canadian military was using a similar structure to their main training course in Wainwright, Alberta, but it was decommissioned in 2011 as it was no longer fit operational requirements.
He confirmed that several other virtual and physical training environments often have buildings imitating places of worship, schools, hospitals, and even graveyard.
Upon discovering the fake mosque, Mourra was immediately contacted by military officials who were ‘respectful’ and said that he understood that special training like this might be needed, but he regretted that the mosque was set up in an area where Muslims could easily see it.