When religious customs and practices of ethnic groups infringe on the rights of Canadians, Canadian laws and regulations on multiculturalism stay silent. That is sad, says Bob Mok in the fifth article in his series on multiculturalism.
This is part of a series of articles on Canada’s multiculturalism. For the earlier article, please go to the following links:
http://096.ca/news/632204, http://096.ca/news/632401 , http://096.ca/news/632709 & http://096.ca/news/632860
The recent USA and European experiences served to magnify the impact of incoming Muslim refugees. It started with polygamy which is not allowed in Canada. Ontario Family Act allows women who came to Canada with valid polygamous marriage documents to claim spousal support and welfare benefits. While the law has yet to be challenged, it is believed that those married here by imam could also likely do the same on the basis of being vulnerable persons.
The wearing of religious garments that ranges from the covering of hair (Hijab) to showing of the eyes only (Niqab) and a total cover on the head and body (Burka) irked many Canadians. When it was discovered that customs officials did not ask for the removal of garments to verify identities, there was security concerns as well as privileges not given to other Canadians. In last year’s Federal election, it caused the NDP Party to lose many seats in Quebec over the wearing of Niqab at citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.
When an airline stewardess converted to Islam in USA stopped serving liquor, her colleagues were very unhappy to take on the extra workload. One cashier in Costco (USA) refused to handle pork and liquor and when transferred to another post, he sued and wanted his employer to have 2 separate kinds of check-out lines. Other cashiers in Target stores (USA) have also been transferred to other departments for the refusing to handle items forbidden by the religion.
Three percent of the Canadian population (Muslim) is now imposing their religious practices on the rest of the populace. “Halal” meats have to be supplied in University restaurants and other public places through very subtle demands and compliance by the politically correct managers. Christians and other religious groups are asked to consume “Halal” products unknowingly when major meat and food manufacturers are producing “Halal certified” products without announcing their compliance thus depriving the consumers of their choices. It is fear that it is just a matter of time when kids and their parents will be asked not to bring pork based foods into school, along with the banning of peanut butter products already enforced.
In 2003, the government of Ontario was asked to set aside its laws and have only the Sharia law apply to its religious members. After a fierce debate, it was turned down. In 2008, the municipal governments did not hold back against the demands. One cafeteria becomes a mosque on Friday afternoons so that Muslim students can listen to an imam from a nearby mosque and pray towards Mecca. The same scene is repeated at public schools across Canada today and many of their cafeterias only serve Halal food that have been sacrificed to Allah.
Since 2008, the municipal government of Edmonton in the province of Alberta has been denying men access to its swimming pools during certain hours of the week after Muslim women demanded opportunities to swim without men around, in accordance with the Sharia Law.
When controversial customs from ethnic groups are not infringing on the rights of others, Canadians begrudgingly accepted them. This was illustrated in the examples given in the last article on the wearing of turban as part of the RCMP uniform and carrying of the Kirpan (a ceremony knife) by religious Sikh members.
The latest round of receptions given to new Muslim refugees coming into Canada brings yet another challenge to multiculturalism. Not only are they perceived as receiving privileges and benefits not given to Canadians, their religious customs are the subject of ridicule and scorn. What is the difference this time?
This time, culture based religious practices finally touched the nerves of many Canadians because their rights are trampled on. Sadly, the Multicultural Act and the Chapter of rights and freedom stay silent as the politicians do not choose to invoke clauses in there that may help with alleviating the concerns.
Next time, we will look at another factor that affects Canada’s multiculturalism – the dual citizenship recognition.
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