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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Is Muslim condo complex in Thornhill start of something sinister?

A story in the Toronto Star tells us there is a proposal to build a Muslim complex of two 17-storey residential towers, retail space and 61 townhouses. This is on an 11-hectare property near the Jaffari Centre mosque in a low-density neighbourhood.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, we have long had religious and cultural groups living nearby who wish to carry on their lives separately from ours.

Take a short trip northwest of Toronto and you’ll be in the midst of a quaint community that dresses differently, spurns motor vehicles for the horse-drawn variety and lives quite apart from their more familiar-to-us neighbours in cities like Waterloo and Kitchener.

Far from being a problem, the Mennonite communities near places like St. Jacobs, Ontario have been net contributors to the culture of the area and would be sorely missed if they were to suddenly disappear.

On the other hand, I’ve heard alarming stories about Muslim communities in the United Kingdom, East London, for example, where:

Muslim extremists are patrolling the streets of East London, publicly targeting gays, drinkers and women who aren’t dressed modestly, in an attempt to enforce Sharia law.” [Daily News, Feb 2, 2013]

Furthermore, in 2011 there was a story on Mail on Line telling of Islamic extremists declaring Britain's first Sharia law zone in Waltham Forest, North London.

And another report, this from Denmark:

In some suburbs in Copenhagen there exist ‘no-go-zones’ which are domains ruled by Muslim gangs and where non-Muslims do not dare to go. Even local police are afraid to enter.” [Source]

Moreover, similar no-go-zones seem to exist throughout northern Europe, where Muslim extremists impose radical laws of dress and other cultural behaviour, and intimidate those they disapprove of from entering their zones, which they treat as if they were separate countries.

To be sure, many moderate Muslims and their leaders speak out against this extreme, anti-social behaviour. Yet these situations seem to be worsening, not improving. There does seem to be some elements of Islam that cannot/will not reconcile with western-style democracy.

Life is difficult enough as it is without the additional stresses of cultural silos growing up in our midst.

Multiculturalism is fine, but with reasonable limits. (If we can impose reasonable limits on as fundamental a human right as free speech—as our Charter of Rights and Freedoms does—certainly we can afford to have limits on multiculturalism.)

I’ll repeat here what I’ve said several time before:

I believe immigrants should assimilate and become Canadians, not remain in economic, religious or social silos. While multiculturalism in diet and generally accepted cultural practices should be tolerated, it should not be officially promoted. Reasonable accommodation of foreign cultural practices should be applied with caution so as not to adulterate Canadian norms, values and practices.”

Worrying too is that this is not the first community of its sort in the Greater Toronto Area. There is another Muslim community in Vaughan, known as the Ahmadiyya “Peace Village,” which has 150 semi-detached and detached houses, apparently, built to accommodate the religious needs of Muslim immigrants.

So my conclusion is we should tread very carefully here and not dismiss opposition to this proposal as bigotry.

6 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. I have always felt that when man created a god in his own image those were the beginnings of major problems for everybody. There is a ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that on the Sabbath you can get stoned for driving a car there are very strict dress codes all because this is what god requires. The extremes in any argument are never pretty. I agree that immigrants should assimilate and not expect the majority to get in line.

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  2. If we maintain our model Canadian society of multi-culturalism in a live-and-let-live, strength-in-diversity kind of setting, we are successful and the envy of the world. But it is when extreme viewpoints are so entrenched in the minds of religious cultists, that their dogmatic stance becomes aggressive, we have a cancerous infestation which can destroy us from within. This is happening in England with repulsively eye-popping events, and now it's tough to recover their country. In Australia, they're advertising the right concept, by telling immigrants to adapt to the ways and values of the host country or don't bother coming in. There's certainly NO comparing Mennonites to Islamic extremists. The former stick to themselves and conduct their lives respectfully in quiet faith. Muslims can be prone to the hostile proclamation of their ways, in a cultural aberration stemming from generations of brain-washing and a stone-age lack of respect and ethical values. In a relatively free country, one cannot help but be apprehensive of dubious developments, where a certain amount of racial stereotyping is now merely a natural mechanism of survival.

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    1. Imagine, Robert, the uproar that would ensue had a complex been proposed that advertised that the condos, etc., were for Christians only, or for whites of British heritage only. Is this complex not discrimination in housing on the grounds of religion? I don't get it.

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  3. Absolutely right! If that shoe were on the other foot, for certain it wouldn't fly.... Only the shoes of those objectors flung in our direction! The Western world has forged its own reputation here, much to the consternation of its homegrown citizens and historic heritage lines comprised of several mutually respectful and harmonious ethnic groups, primarily from Europe. Bending over backwards for the minorities has severely cost the majorities, more aptly described as bending over and taking it... Immigration protocol and Canadian Citizenship requirements should be updated for the preservation and perpetuation of our great country's values.

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  4. Cheryl Prosyk Feb. 11, 2014 7:53 PM (Following comment deleted in error):

    It surely is discrimination as we see it. The Muslims will waste no time in taking this to the HRC and we know how that will end up. The HRC was set up to protect people though in this case I would not be surprised that it will be Canadians on the losing end and yet we stand by and do nothing!!!

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