Dear Prime Minister: Muslim boy invites Justin Trudeau to visit St. John's mosque
A 12-year-old Muslim boy in St. John's has written Justin Trudeau inviting the prime minister to visit his mosque on Logy Bay Road to ease the fears of people who pray there.
Abdallah Shahwan says Muslims are nervous after the mass killing of six men during evening prayers in a Quebec City mosque in January.
"All my friends are feeling unsafe," Shahwan said in his letter.
"We feel scared all the time and can't enjoy coming to the mosque as we used to before," he added.
He said a visit from Trudeau could dampen those fears.
"It would make all the community, all the children, everyone here, feel safe again, coming to the mosque," Shahwan said in an interview with Here and Now's Debbie Cooper.
Shahwan's connection with Trudeau
The Grade 7 student at Leary's Brook Junior High wrote the prime minister because he felt he owed Trudeau a thank you letter anyway.
That's because last summer the CBC tweeted a picture of Shahwan and a friend during a ceremony marking the end of Ramadan.
Trudeau replied to the tweet saying, "tell them I saw it. And happy Eid!"
"I was happy he did that," said Shahwan.
"I kept thinking I should write a letter thanking him and inviting him to our mosque."
Shahwan added, "Then the incident in Quebec motivated me to write the letter as soon as possible."
Shooting changed everything
The 12-year-old said January's Quebec City killings led to changes at the Logy Bay Road mosque.
Doors are now locked during prayers and it's his job to keep watch.
"I have to recognize their face before I open the door. The door used to be open during prayer."
With time since the shootings, Shahwan admits, things have improved, "The fear has diminished a lot. But there's still that tiny bit of fear."
Something he feels a Trudeau visit could eliminate.
"A visit from him would mean a lot. Everybody would be happy. They'd feel comfortable knowing that the prime minister has our back."
The letter was sent to Justin Trudeau, last week, through St. John's East MP Nick Whalen.