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How Canadian Tolerance Became Intolerance By: Michael Radu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Sooner or later, the de facto mutual support society of progressives and Islamists had to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

The progressives who have supported the claims of Islamists in the West have long chosen to disregard the saying that one cannot be so open minded as to let your brains fall out. Now reality forces them to wake up and, increasingly in Europe and now in Canada, realize that the Islamists’ goals are incompatible with their own, and that excessive "tolerance" inevitably leads to intolerance.

The days of the joint anti–American demonstrations of the Left and Islamists, of the Communists, Socialists and Muslim radicals in the streets of Paris or in Trafalgar Square may indeed be coming to an end.

The first and most spectacular sign that the progressives and the Islamists seek different, contradictory goals came from the Netherlands -- that most progressive of all countries, the land of legal drugs, medical assisted suicide and euthanasia, gay marriages and unionized military. It had a face – Pym Fortuyn, a gay environmentalist who famously declared that Islam is a reactionary and "stupid" religion, and that his country is "full."

Blasphemy? Not really. Shortly after Fortuyn’s 2002 assassination by a radical environmentalist, his party came from nowhere to place second in the general elections that year. While the party soon collapsed under the weight of its own incompetence, its radical (by European standards) anti-immigration (read anti–Muslim immigration) program was largely adopted by the present government in The Hague. Meanwhile, the same year, the gay Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, was almost killed by a Muslim who did not like gays. No matter how multiculturalists may tie themselves in knots over the issue, Islam and homosexuality are irrevocably incompatible. This is demonstrated by the attitudes of Muslims everywhere. Muslims condemn homosexuality as much if not more than fundamentalist Christians. And unlike fundamentalist Christians, they are willing and ready to kill over it.

Then there is Islam’s problem with feminism, and women in general. Polygamy, which is illegal everywhere in the West, is quite commonly tolerated, practiced, subsidized in a number of countries, especially France. Then there is the practice of genital mutilation of girls -- not an Orthodox Muslim practice, but it happens nonetheless -- in many Muslim countries. Finally there is the general -- and theologically correct -- Islamic denial of the most basic rights to women. Put polygamy, genital mutilation, anti-abortion attitudes and the burqa together and one is likely to drive feminists wild indeed. It is also a combination that makes all Western women -- and most decent men for that matter -- question the realism of accepting Islam as just another religion to be respected and tolerated in their midst.

Now, Canada is becoming the Netherlands of North America. Its official ideology is "multiculturalism." Canadians may not like the term, but that is the ruling Liberal Party’s entrenched policy since the premiership of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s. However, multiculturalism is now facing the limits of "tolerance."

Canadian-style multiculturalism, the dream of American academics and the enemy of serious Canadians who care about politics and their own culture, is simple to define: immigrant ethnic minority groups, virtually all from the Third World, are not only not required to assimilate, but the taxpayers, in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance," are required to pay for maintaining their culture. Hence the plethora of ethnic – Chinese, East and South East Asian, Indian sub-continent, etc. associations, schools, cultural organizations paid by the taxpayers of Alberta or British Columbia – via Ottawa, of course, since the Canadian West is quite hostile to this.

One may ask the key, common sense question to all pro–immigrant, anti–assimilation groups everywhere: why would anyone choose to emigrate from the balmy climates of the Third World to chilly Canada if their culture – political or otherwise – is so worthy as to be maintained in the new country? Indeed, if Pakistani, Romanian, Bangladeshi or Jamaican culture are so great, why leave? Or is there no link – logical and practical – between that culture and the push factors for emigration?

In the name of tolerance and multiculturalism, in 1991 the Ontario provincial government passed something called the Arbitration Act, allowing religious (at the time Christian and Jewish) authorities to perform certain legal functions, in family and civil law, rather than having regular courts do it. Of course, as Ontario goes, so goes Canada. Ontario Muslims demanded that Sharia (Islamic law) "courts" be allowed to solve family and other civil matters (divorce, child custody and inheritance, etc.) among Canadian Muslims. And why not? After all, it would be hypocritical to allow a rabbi to deal with kosher matters while denying an imam the right to deal with divorce or child custody, wouldn't it? It is a valid legal point within the moral, cultural and legal universe of Canadian multiculturalism.

As one may expect, supporters of the sharia as de facto Canadian law for Muslims promise – perhaps sincerely – that no obligatory sharia punishments such as cutting off the hands of the thieves, stoning adulterers, etc., associated with strict application of sharia in Saudi Arabia, would happen in the snowy towns of Ontario. However sharia is divinely ordained, in its totality, in Muslim eyes. It is a matter of faith, and choosing and picking among its rules is not for Canadian (or any other) imams to decide. But that essential issue is not what has provoked a strong feminist reaction in Ontario and among those Canadians not in Barbados or Florida at this time; it is the relationship between sharia and women rights – and feminism.

"It's shocking to see the seeds of an Islamic republic being sown here in Canada," one young woman shouted to vociferous applause at a recent Toronto rally, organized to denounce the practice of sharia in Ontario. "Sharia doesn't work anywhere else in the world. Why does the government believe it will work here?" [1]

This is a clear case of "tolerance" gone wild and becoming intolerance – and it is a double one. On the one hand, Muslims in Canada (at least some of them) claim that, in the name of Canadian "tolerance" and "multiculturalism," they have a right to live by their own legal rules (sharia), which is by definition intolerant (to non-Muslims), "morally conservative" and gives Muslims a legal domination over all others. On the other hand, the Left – of which feminism, here, in Europe and in Canada is one of the strongest contingents – believes in erasing religious moral standards, indiscriminate "equality" between sexes and to gays, bisexuals, etc. The problem for Western leftist politicians and their media sidekicks is that, sooner or later, their gay, feminist and "tolerant" constituencies would rebel and prove that they are still more numerous at the ballot box than those immigrant Muslims who cannot adapt.

[1] Susan Bourette , Can tolerant Canada tolerate sharia?, The Christian Science Monitor, August 10, 2004.


Michael Radu is Senior Fellow and Co - Chair, Center on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.


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