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Siddiqui: The new war over multiculturalism

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    Siddiqui: The new war over multiculturalism

    April 25, 2010
    Haroon Siddiqui


    Members of the Sikh community take part in the annual Khalsa Day parade. A dispute in the Sikh community and the debate over the niqab in Quebec have sparked a new debate over the policy of official multiculturalism.
    Ron Bull/Toronto Star

    Throughout its history, Canada has been said to be going to the dogs because of bad immigrants. Good immigrants we've never had, as per populist parlance. It's only with the passage of time that the older batches of immigrants are deemed to have done some good for Canada.

    Doing the deeming include those who themselves were once derided as having been utterly unassimilable. But they forget that. Or remember it all too well, which is why they revel in taking their turn in reviling the newer arrivals.

    This pathology has meant denigrating the newcomers' religions, cultures and cuisine. The last we have learned to like. On the former, some remain unsure, especially about the newer, relatively unfamiliar faiths and customs.

    This brings us to the Sikh kirpan and the Muslim niqab — and multiculturalism, which is routinely blamed for anything that does not fit its critics' prejudices.
    Two rival Sikh groups fight at a Brampton gurdwara. Out come some daggers. Up goes the public cry that the kirpan be banned.

    Why not ban guns that are far more lethal? Or axes and hammers that were also wielded in the incident? Or metal cutlery, baseball bats, hockey sticks and other more readily available objects that are sometimes used to harm others?

    In Surrey, B.C., some Sikhs organizing a parade warn two prominent Sikhs — Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal MP, and Dave Hayer, Liberal MLA — to stay away, for their own safety.

    Dosanjh was viciously beaten in Vancouver in 1985 for courageously speaking out against Sikh militancy. And Hayer's father was murdered in 1998 just before he was to testify at the trial of Sikh suspects in the 1985 Air India bombing.

    Both politicians have tragic reasons to be angry at their community. Both are right, as is the federal Liberal party, to condemn the parade organizers. Both are also right to warn that militancy may be on the rise among Sikhs, especially in B.C.

    But Dosanjh is wrong to attribute that extremism to "the political correctness" of multiculturalism, which gives "extremists the space to nurture old grudges brought from their homelands."

    If multiculturalism is the culprit, why is extremism not sweeping all our ethnic communities? And what's the explanation for the British and French having imported their old-country troubles here long before multiculturalism?

    Yet, argues Dosanjh: "Multiculturalism has been completely distorted, turned on its head to essentially claim that anything anyone believes, no matter how ridiculous and outrageous, is okay and acceptable in the name of diversity."

    That's just not so. What's acceptable is only what's permissible under the law. Those who cross that line, for whatever religious, cultural or thuggish reasons, face the music.

    In the Brampton case, police have charged three people. In Surrey, presumably no law was broken but the organizers, censured in the court of public opinion, have recanted and apologized. That's democracy at work.

    Sikhs are not the first ethnic group to fight among themselves, sometimes violently. Our history is littered with such examples, many predating multiculturalism.

    We should also not confuse the actions of some hooligans as the norm for a whole group, just as we don't equate white murderers as symptomatic of all whites.

    Dosanjh, an otherwise sensible politician, is spouting populist nonsense. He is a Liberal giving credence to illiberal notions of multiculturalism and its founding document, the Charter of Rights.

    But then, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is not much of a liberal, either. Take his support of Quebec's draconian bill to deprive all public services, even health care, to Muslim taxpayers who don the niqab.

    His position is distressingly similar to Stephen Harper's and Nicolas Sarkozy's and others in Europe toying with the totalitarian notion of anti-veil morality squads.

    Under Belgium's proposed anti-niqab law, violators would be fined up to 25 euros or jailed up to seven days. Sarkozy is pushing ahead with a niqab ban against the advice of the Council of State, France's top administrative authority, that a ban would be unconstitutional.

    Amnesty International also warned this week that a ban "would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to express their identity or beliefs in this way. . . . Women must not be compelled to wear a head scarf or veil, either by the state or by individuals; and it is wrong for them to be prohibited by law from wearing it" beyond being asked to lift their veils for security or ID reasons.

    Sarkozy's standing in the polls is low, as is that of Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Harper, Ignatieff and Dosanjh. They want to climb back up on the backs of vulnerable women or by being dangerously intolerant of multiculturalism, which is the law of the land in Canada.

    If the Liberals want to axe Article 27 of the Charter, let them propose a constitutional amendment, so we can have an honest debate.

    Haroon Siddiqui writes Thursday and Sunday. hsiddiqui@thestar.ca
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  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    Well written article. All these politicians want votes, they will pimp, malign and do every other thing imaginable in the gutter to get votes especially when they are afriad to lose their high chair and Dosanjh is in danger of that.

    This is the only reason that the posters should post both sides of the story at the same time. Sikhi demands that. SPN is based on the fair and balanced approach. The more one talks in favour of the one without giving the other sides, more it smells fishy. And a poster should not be fearful of giving his/her own opinion, otherwise the practice become robotic rather than cultivating the thought process that Sikhi is based on.

    After all this a first and foremost a Sikhi forum and practicing Sikhi values should be the duty of all Sikhs that participate in here.

    Tejwant Singh

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