Multiculturalism must be a two-way street | Hassan

Farzana Hassan makes valid points regarding the proposed Brossard Muslim housing development (the local mosque does not support such segregation), although it is not unique to Islam: fundamentalists from all religions generally demand more accommodation, and be less open and tolerant:

Even the issues of living space and location have an ethical dimension. Is it socially desirable to allow the creation of religious, cultural and ethnic enclaves and ghettoes, such as the one proposed for one hundred Muslim families in the suburbs of Montreal, or would such localities defeat the very idea of multiculturalism?

The Quebec plan does just the opposite. By definition, any enclave designed to house a community with a shared background proliferates monoculturalism.

The idea was reportedly inspired by the desire to have interest-free housing for Muslims concerned about violating sharia regulations on usury. To that end, solutions, some of which in essence are the same as any other mortgage plans, have already been proposed and implemented.

But using some religious pretext to shut out non-Muslims from a housing development is not the answer. Many Canadian mosques have already instituted culturally acceptable banking systems.

Nabil Warda, the Montreal developer who proposed the project, has stated the following: “Nowhere is it written: ‘Listen guys, we don’t want any nasty Québécois or Canadians in this place.’ We never said that. We never intended that. It is not even my way of thinking.” Nevertheless, the very existence of such an enclave would be exclusionary.

It is time spokespeople from some immigrant communities take a hard look at likely repercussions of their own actions. When Canadians have to endure this housing proposal and the upcoming “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” conference – a gathering to promote orthodox belief – it is hardly surprising that political leaders like Kellie Leitch call for a Canadian values test for immigrants.

Tolerance of “the other”, even in an avowedly multicultural society like Canada, must be limited.

As surely as we cannot possibly tolerate polygamy or the mistreatment of women, we cannot approve of discriminatory housing. Such actions cause rancor with host societies and ultimately make victims of immigrants themselves.

While most Canadian Muslims are well integrated into Canadian society and are happy to interact with other Canadians, fundamentalists and Islamists continue to draw justified negative press through their outrageous demands for faith accommodations.

They withdraw from the multicultural process by locking themselves up from the outside world. Whether it is exemptions from music class for their children, or creating their own sharia-compliant silos, these fundamentalists insist on imposing their inflexible mores on others.

Fundamentalists asserting these rights on the basis of Charter freedoms must assert whatever cultural identities they have within a common context and participate in the multicultural experience without reservation.

To be candid, this is an Islamist issue. I see no devout Hindus, Sikhs, Jews or Christians seeking such far-reaching faith accommodations.

Source: Multiculturalism must be a two-way street | Hassan | Columnists | Opinion | Toro

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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