Updated | Catholic school opens its doors to Muslim community

Dominican Order says Muslims should not be denied places of worship, opens up St Albert the Great College in Valletta to community • Malta Muslim Council Foundation welcomes invitation

St Albert the Great College in Valletta
St Albert the Great College in Valletta

The Dominican Order has opened the doors of its St Albert the Great College in Valletta to the Muslim community which it said is being denied its right to have its own place of worship.

The Malta Muslim Council Foundation welcomed the invitation and said that it will be discussing the matter in the coming days.

This comes after the St Paul’s local council unanimously decided to object to a planning application to turn a garage into a place of worship for the growing Muslim community in the area.

Mayor Graziella Galea said the council unanimously agreed to oppose the permit, because the proposed prayer room was inadequate for worship, and would create a hindrance to public order and increase problems of parking space.

But in a statement issued on Thursday, Dominican provincial Fr Frans Micallef and school headmaster said that these objections are “suspicious and inconsistent because they are not used against other communities.”

Micallef and Mallia added that the council and other people opposed to Muslim places of worship were using two weights and two measures, especially when Maltese Catholics had plenty of places of worship, Muslims are being denied their right to worship.

Parts of the Muslim community had a similar application turned down by the Planning Authority some 10 years ago for the change of use of another venue, in St Paul’s Bay while more recently the Sta Venera local council objected to a change of use of a premises in the locality because they determined that the venue would be used as a mosque. 

Underlining the Dominican Order and the college’s commitment to welcome children and people of all religions, including Muslims, Micallef and Mallia said “we celebrate hospitality as an integral part of our Christiana and human identity.”

“In this controversy aimed at dividing and discriminating as a direct result of fear and prejudice, we feel that as an educational community we cannot sit on the fence. Inspired by the insistence of the Dominican Order to place justice and peace at the centre of it work, we would like to tangibly offer the college facilities for the use of this Muslim community.”