Independent Gay Forum – Multiculturalism Subverts Human Rights

That’s not my experience. In fact, during the four years I lived in the UK, those of liberal tendencies had such a hard time finding liberal Muslim voices from within the UK that they had to import foreign Muslims like Irshad Manji to take on the hard-liners in the UK.

Most British “liberal” or “moderate” Muslim luminaries would reflexively defend hard-line ideology and would describe criticism of it as “Islamophobic” rather than confront it.

Perhaps you’re thinking of someone who has emerged into the public spotlight in the last six months or so?

toujoursdan | June 16, 2007, 8:30pm | #

Most British “liberal” or “moderate” Muslim luminaries would reflexively defend hard-line ideology and would describe criticism of it as “Islamophobic” rather than confront it.

We have very loud and forceful liberal Muslim voices here in Canada that are publicly critical of aspects of their faith and are actively adapting it to Canadian values. The Muslim Canadian Congress were forceful in the advocacy for same sex marriage and women’s equality (see: their issues page. The CBC TV show “Little Mosque on the Prairie” which is written by liberal Muslim – Zarqa Nawaz – has confronted things that would make Muslims uncomfortable like whether a woman has to cover herself in front of a gay man. That show was a hit and NBC in the US is going to adapt it there. She (Zarqa Nawaz) had a more serious exposé on the physical barriers going up in Mosques that separate men and women that was also shown on national TV which was very critical of traditional Islam and its treatment of women. They also recently aired another documentary called ŤFaith and Fearť written by Muslim feminist Irshad Manji that talks about her struggle as a liberal Muslim. (I posted an interview with her on my blog here: “The Hour”: Faith and Fear

Maybe multiculturalism isn’t working in the US or UK because it isn’t being done correctly or there isn’t enough experience with it. Both are societies where people are expected to assimilate and take on middle class suburban culture. The expectation is that everyone must learn English and look and act like their neighbours. I lived in Texas for a while and constantly heard comments about how Hispanics won’t learn English and saw the discomfort with people who acted “too black”.

In Canada we have had to manage distinct cultures that are never going to assimilate for two centuries – English and French – and there isn’t an expectation that everyone is going to sound and act the same.

It’s certainly not perfect here, tensions still come up from time to time and there are historical mistakes (like the way we treated the natives and Chinese) that haven’t been fully addressed, but you are finding Canadian values of equality, diversity and freedom permeating and changing these Muslim, Sikh, Chinese and other communities as they arrive and become established. And these communities are adding more energy and vitality to mainstream Canadian society as well. I think multiculturalism has been good for the country overall and think we’d be impoverished without it.