The MacDonald-Laurier Institute and the Globe and Mail held a public conference recently on the phenomenon of Muslim immigration to the West, which debated whether or not the influx is bringing a culture of violence to Canada and other Western countries.
The debate was conducted between Doug Saunders, journalist for Foreign Affairs for the Globe and Mail, and Salim Mansur, a Political Science professor at the University of Western Ontario, reports Shalom Toronto.
The two addressed the following questions: Are immigrants from Muslim countries bringing violence and values that are inconsistent with Western values? Are Muslim immigrants integrating into Western society in the same ways that other ethnic minorities do? And, is Muslim immigration a threat to Canada or West?
Interestingly, it was the political science professor - who is, himself, Muslim - who maintained that Islam remains a threat to Canadian society.
Jihadist Terrorism: Not a Religious Movement, but a Political One
Saunders maintained throughout the debate that Muslim immigration presents no threat to Canadian society whatsoever, and stated that claims that the influx had led to a rise in extremism and violence were misleading.
To prove this, Saunders cited a study by British intelligence agencies on criminals and terrorists, which demonstrated that personal trauma, criminal activity, jail time, and especially political beliefs, are more likely to cause crime than Muslim religious beliefs in and of themselves. The study also concluded that religious education protected against - rather than fueled - violent tendencies.
"Jihadist terrorism is a violent political movement, based on territorial claims and religious separatism – a ‘clash of civilizations’ belief based on political extremism, not religious faith," Saunders noted. "Islam does not draw people into extremism; rather, political extremism draws its members into Islam."
Thus, according to Saunders, "eliminating Muslim immigration wouldn’t eliminate Islamic extremism from the West or even reduce it significantly."
The Globe and Mail columnist also addressed concerns that Muslim immigrants will eventually attempt to impose Sharia law in Canada, enacting edicts that oppose secular values, oppress women's rights, and discriminate against homosexuals. In response, Saunders noted that the possibility of the Muslim community in Canada gaining enough ground to become a political power was unlikely; demographically, he argued the birthrate among Muslim immigrants shrinks after several generations.
"This narrative is built on a basic fallacy," Saunders stated. "Why would any family endure the trouble and expense of immigrating to a faraway country because they hate its ways? People generally immigrate to places whose values and institutions they find agreeable." He added that 94% of Muslim immigrants hold they are "proud to be Canadian" and 81% are satisfied with Canada's political leadership - compared to just 61% of the native Canadian population.
Muslim Immigration: A Threat to the West
Professor Salim Mansur begged to differ.
"Canadians’ mistaken notion that all cultures are equal has disarmed this nation in the confrontation with the illiberal demands of radical Islam," he fired, noting he was "drawing upon – as an immigrant, as a person of color and as a Muslim – inside knowledge of and lived experience in the cultures of both liberal democracy and Islam."
"A liberal-democratic society based on individual rights, freedom, and the rule of law cannot indefinitely accommodate non-liberal or illiberal demands from immigrant groups without subverting its own culture," Mansur noted. He then identified three risk factors: the rise in birthrates among the Muslim community, the nature of Muslim culture and its relationship to non-Muslim cultures, and the West's multiculturalism.
Statistics cited by the professor include proof that the foreign-born population in Canada has become predominantly non-Western since 1967, especially in major city centers, and that the Muslim immigrant population is growing four times faster than other immigrant populations.
As a culture, Mansur stressed, Islam became a "rigid, closed system" during the 14th century, as a result of a heavy Bedouin influence. Mansur maintains that early Islam found Bedouin culture "savage" - but it nonetheless prevailed.
"The full face of this Bedouin-ized Islamic culture that has wrecked the diversity of the Muslim world from within is to be seen in the bigotry, violence, vulgarity and misogyny of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Khomeini followers," Mansur noted. "It is the nature of mainstream contemporary Muslim politics – or Islamism – to conform to the Bedouin disposition."
This disposition, Mansur claimed, characterizes contemporary Islamic values - even in immigrant communities. The things heard in Canadian mosques are "intractably opposed to liberal democracy," and aim to "ruin from within" Canadian and Western values, according to the Professor.
Multiculturalism, meanwhile, threatens to allow this attitude to rear its ugly head in the political sphere, according to Mansur.
"In having swallowed the toxin of official multiculturalism, Canada has disarmed itself of the ability to discriminate between immigrant groups which are importing cultural baggage that is harmless, and those that are toxic to the values of liberal democracy," Mansur concludes.