Debate on Muslim immigration to Canada
Author: Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
Profile of the author at the bottom of the article:
Source: Toronto Star, March 4, 2014
Original title: Islamaphobia raises its head in immigration debate
A debate on Muslim immigration to Canada and the West strays into inflammatory rhetoric.
Islamophobia, like anti-semitism and racism, is ugly and shameful. I found out in attending a panel discussion that it is also threatening to the harmony that prevails in Canada.
The function was arranged in Ottawa by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a public policy think-tank. The topic was “Muslim immigration is no threat to Canada or the West.”
This topic itself is questionable. The Criminal Code bars promoting hatred against an identifiable group. The theme not only lumps together all Muslims, who are hugely diverse, into one entity, it also fingers them as a possible potential threat to Canada or the West. It also suggests that it might be best to return to a racist approach to immigration or perhaps to stop immigration altogether.
These possibilities were implied by the inflammatory and inaccurate allegations made by a panelist.
Dr. Salim Mansur, an associate professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, once accused former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton of having “gone to bed with Islamists” and stated that scientists warning about global warming were raising false alarms because they had been “corrupted by the lure of money and influence.” He also urged the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in October 2012 to stop immigration from Muslim countries.
Dr. Mansur has every right to express his opinions. But falsely maligning an entire community is a different matter.
At the panel discussion he said that while Christianity and Judaism had reformation 500 years ago, Muslims display Bedouin savagery and have caused the most killings in the last century.
He stated that Canadian Muslims, such as the Muslim Association of Canada, draw inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to subvert the West from within through immigration.
He asserted that Muslims are changing the composition of Canada’s population through immigration and a high fertility rate, Muslims do not assimilate and carry an ideology that is hostile to the West, Islamism like Bolshevism seeks the destruction of free society, Friday sermons incite Muslims week after week in Canada, the Muslim world is the incubator of terrorism and that we are importing terrorists.
He cited convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja, the talk of sharia law in Ontario and a lawsuit by a Muslim organization against Maclean’s magazine as proof.
He ignored all the killings in the last century that were not caused by Muslims – the two world wars, the Holocaust, the Korean war, the Stalinist purges, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Indochina war, the genocide in Kampuchea and Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the invasion of Iraq, the forced displacements of Palestinians, Sri Lanka’s civil war, the atrocities in the Congo and Uganda and the current killings and displacement of Muslims in Myanmar and the Central African Republic.
True, the Muslim world has experienced and is experiencing savagery, corruption and human rights violations. But to condemn them as barbaric and ignore the massive killings by others is hardly conducive to a constructive debate.
As to Friday sermons promoting extremism, Mansur did not say where he got the information. I have attended sermons in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, the Atlantic provinces, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. Most sermons preached integrity, compassion, justice, respect for women, good neighborliness and obeying the laws of Canada.
Often church groups and students attend such services and ask questions. Many Muslim organizations conduct interfaith programs to mingle and socialize with fellow Canadians of other faiths. In many cities Muslims prayed at churches before they built their mosques.
As to Canada, immigrants of diverse religions come from many countries because they want to escape oppression or poverty and to build a better life for themselves and their children. Canada needs immigrants because its own fertility rate is low and cannot sustain its economy. The background of all immigrants is thoroughly checked. Most contribute to Canada immeasurably.
Canadian Muslims are enriching Canada in many fields. Mansur cited Khawaja but made no mention of the many Muslims who have won the Order of Canada and those, like Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star, who won the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario for exceptional services.
Panelist Douglas Saunders, an award-winning journalist with the Globe and Mail, who has reported from a dozen Muslim countries, asserted that Muslims cannot be a threat to Canada or the West because they come to Canada to escape persecution or poverty and/or to improve their lives and those of their children, they cherish Canada and the west, their fertility rates fall dramatically in Canada, they adopt western values and in no western country are Muslims less tolerant of others than are followers of other faiths. Saunders reached his conclusions through painstaking research.
But Mansur, I thought, got louder applause from a mostly white, elderly audience than did Saunders. One gentleman proclaimed at the mike that he does not want to live under sharia rule. Sadly, yelling “fire” in a dark, crowded theatre gets more attention than a plea to please be quiet because the movie is about to begin.