Alderman Monica De Coninck met the first ten participants in the mosque tour-guide course Wednesday in the Antwerp municipality. Seven people got their certification after successfully completing a training period.
The project "welcome to the mosque' was established after schools and neighborhood groups showed interest in guided tours of mosque building and mosques showed they wanted to open their doors to the neighborhood.
In order to realize the project, the city looked for volunteers who were connected to a mosque. From October to November 2009, the ten Antwerp volunteer guide-candidates took a 4-day course. They were trained in communication skills, leading a tour and dealing with questions from the public. The teacher was Hassan Amaghlou, who previously taught mosque guides in Limburg.
Afterward the candidate tour-guides had to go through a five month training period. During this period they gave a number of guided tours accompanied by coach Omar Nahas. This further developed the skills of the candidate-guides.
Today seven of the ten 2009 candidates got their official certificate. The other three would get their certificate pending further training and/or language training.
Altogether, 550 Antwerp residents got tours so far. For example, a tour-guide led a group of seniors and a group of students from the Stroboertje community center in Merksem, an organization for poor people. In addition to basic information about the mosque and Islam in general, the guides also speak about their own experience.
The guided tours are advertised via various organizations in Antwerp. After the certification, the project will be more extensively marketed to schools.
Source: GvA (Dutch)