Parc Safari responds to video of praying Muslims: 'We're sorry if you're offended by freedom of religion'
Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017 9:31PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 5, 2017 6:58PM EDT
Officials at Parc Safari have strongly condemned a widely shared Facebook video showing Muslim visitors praying at the park, which has attracted numerous xenophobic comments.
The video, which features a group of Muslim people praying at the park, was posted on Tuesday. The caption reads: “It’s not only inappropriate, but it shows a serious lack of respect to Quebec and Quebecers.”
A woman can be heard in the video shouting, "we are too conciliatory," while another says she is against prayers in public spaces.
It has been viewed more than 100,000 times and has attracted over 500 comments.
Parc Safari President Jean-Pierre Ranger didn't mince words Wednesday, saying the park has always been open to people from all walks of live, and it would remain as such.
“What has erupted from this incident is an indication of a malaise, and that malaise has to be addressed, politically, socially and educationally. And that is something that has come to the surface of my conscience living in Hemmingford, as a challenge we must help oppose. Therefore our writing our policy as to why we accept groups, why they’re welcome to the park,” said Ranger.
In a statement released on Tuesday, park management said they welcome people of all nationalities, religions, cultures, languages and sexual orientations and won’t tolerate any discrimination within the park.
“Parc Safari is sorry if freedom of religion has offended some people,” officials said in the statement. "Parc Safari is a welcome place for all, regardless of nationality, religion, culture, language and sexual orientation. Parc Safari does not discriminate against any group and does not tolerate hate attacks on its site."
In the statement, officials said the praying Muslims were from the Canadian Muslim Association and were in a reserved space. The group had brought along a sound system to assist in their prayers, which was not connected to the park system.
Management said the group had complied with all rules and instructions, which any group visiting the site would be held to.
Park Safari said it will not accept any call to hatred or inappropriate vocabulary on social media, on the phone or on its website and all messages of the sort will be erased.
With files from The Canadian Press