article from the Calgary Herald (from an email), no publication date provided.
"Time to Change Tune on Official Multiculturalism
by Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald -
About one dozen families who recently immigrated to Canada are
demanding that the Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg excuse their
children from music and co-ed physical education programs for religious
reasons. The families believe music is un-Islamic ~ just like the
Taliban believe and then imposed on the entire population of
Afghanistan and that physical education classes should be segregated
by gender even in the elementary years.
The school division is facing the music in a typically Canadian way -
that is, bending itself into a trombone to try to accommodate these
demands, even though in Manitoba, and indeed the rest of the country,
music and phys-ed are compulsory parts of the curriculum. Officials say
they may try to have the Muslim children do a writing project on music
to satisfy the curriculum's requirements. The school officials have
apparently consulted the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, and they
have also spoken to a member of the Islamic community suggested by
those very same Muslim parents. In any event, the school district is
trying to find a way to adapt the curriculum to fit the wishes of these
families, rather than these families adapting to fit into the school
and Canadian culture.
Mahfooz Kanwar, a member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, says he has a
better idea. "I'd tell them, this is Canada, and in Canada, we teach
music and physical education in our schools. If you don't like it,
leave. If you want to live under sharia law, go back to the hellhole
country you came from or go to another hellhole country that lives
under sharia law," said Kanwar, who is a professor emeritus of
sociology at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
That might be putting things a little more forcefully than most of us
would be comfortable with, but Kanwar says he is tired of hearing about
such out-of-tune demands from newcomers to our country.
"Immigrants to Canada should adjust to Canada, not the other way
around," he argues. If they did not like these things in Canada, why
did they not go somewhere else? If they want Canada to be like their
homeland why don't they go home?
Kanwar, who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan via England and then the
United States in 1966, says he used to buy into the "mosaic, official
multiculturalism" (nonsense). He makes it clear, that like most
Canadians, he is pleased and enjoys that Canada has citizens literally
from every country and corner in the world, as it has enriched this
country immensely. But it's official multiculturalism - the state
policy "that entrenches the lie" that all cultures and beliefs are of
equal value and of equal validity in Canada that he objects to.
"The fact is, Canada has an enviable culture based on Judeo-Christian
values - not Muslim values - with British and French rule of law and in
all of the other places in the world. We are heading down a dangerous
path if we allow the idea of sharia law a place in Canada. It does not.
It is completely incompatible with the idea and reality of Canada,"
says Kanwar, who in the 1970s was the founder and president of the
Pakistan-Canada Association and a big fan of official multiculturalism.
Kanwar says his views changed when he started listening to the people
who joined his group. They badmouthed Canada, weren't interested in
knowing Canadians or even in learning one of our official languages.
They created cultural ghettos and the Canadian government even helped
"One day it dawned on me that the reason all of us wanted to move here
was going to disappear if we didn't start defending Canada and
itsfundamental values." That's when Kanwar started speaking out against
the dangers of official multiculturalism. He has been doing so for
decades. So, it's no surprise that Kanwar is delighted with the recent
speech British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered to the 47th
Munich Security Conference on Feb. 5.
"Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism," said Cameron, "we have
failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want
tobelong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving
in ways that run counter to our values. So when a white person holds
objectionable views - racism, for example - we rightly condemn them..
But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone
who isn't white, we've been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to
stand up to them.
This hands-off tolerance," said Cameron, "has only served to reinforce
the sense that not enough is shared. All this leaves some young Muslims
feeling rootless and ... can lead them to this extremist ideology."
Kanwar actually credits German Chancellor Angela Merkel for being among
the first of the world's democratic leaders to take the courageous step
in October to say that official multiculturalism had "failed totally.."
It appears leaders are getting bolder. During an interview with TFI
channel on Feb. 10, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared: "We have
been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving
and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving
him." Cameron ended his speech by saying: "At
stake are not just lives, it's our way of life.That's why this is
achallenge we cannot avoid - and one we must meet."
That democratically elected leaders are at long last starting to sing a
different tune on official multiculturalism is sweet music to Kanwar.
Here's hoping those poor kids in Winnipeg will get to hear some of it."
"Definitely food for thought," sighs Kia.