Shakeel Gaya, founder and president of the society, said the signs misrepresent the Muslim reaction to dogs when they say “dogs are considered filthy in Islam.”
The issue came to light when the City of Pitt Meadows, the logo for which appears on the signs found at a dog park and elsewhere in the city, issued a statement that they did not originate at city hall.
“Please be courteous to your Muslim neighbours. Many Muslims live in this area and dogs are considered filthy in Islam. Please keep your dogs on a leash and away from the Muslims who live in this community,” the signs say.
They were found at Hoffman Park, which is a designated off-leash area.
Some are suggesting in social media that the signs, which they have pictures of dogs with a line through them, are intended to foster resentment against Muslims.
Similar tactics have been seen in the U.S.
“That may be a possibility,” agreed Gaya. “I can assure you this is not from the Islamic Society.”
He said observant Muslims are allowed to keep dogs, and they are used for hunting and as guard dogs.
However, if a dog licks a Muslim, they must wash before praying, he said.
There are leash laws because not everyone loves dogs, said Gaya.
“There are Catholics and people of other faiths who don’t like dogs,” he added.
He takes the signs as a misrepresentation of Islam’s view of canines.
“The motive would be suspect, to say the least.”
Ibrahim Hooper of the U.S.-based Council on American-Islam Relations said although the group’s website is listed on the page, it had nothing to do with the signs.
Gaya said his group reaches out to the community each year with an Eid celebration at the Maple Ridge library, where people of all faiths are invited to attend and learn about Islam.
Some years it has attracted more than 100 people, but this year’s July event was attended by approximately 60.