Why are we divisive in multiculturalism?

Why are we divisive in multiculturalism?

Tahir Aslam Gora
Isn’t it ironic that segregation, seclusion and ghettoism are being advocated in the name of multiculturalism? If that isn’t the case, why does Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. need to conduct a research project into Islamic banking? Why did the Toronto District School Board decide to set up an Afrocentric, or black- focused, school?
In the wake of the controversial decision on a black-focused school, TDSB’s website stated proudly: “When students know more about where they are from, it’s much easier to look with confidence to where you want to go.”
Sure, there is nothing wrong in knowing where we come from, but it’s quite disturbing to realize where we are heading these days.
We need to be honest in answering the question, Can black-focused schools help shape a real multicultural society? Would Islamic banking help to integrate marginalized Muslim communities across Canada? I don’t think so.
We find good reasons to justify these things, but those good reasons don’t serve us well in the end.
It’s being said that a black-focused school will help to counter the high dropout rate among black students. But could that problem — along with other related issues — have been addressed in a more proper way? This is an exclusionary decision, by just one city’s school board, that could give a negative impression of the whole country.
It seems strange to me that Premier Dalton McGuinty is disagreeing with the decision and has said he won’t pay for it, but he’s not overruling it. Burlington’s Conservative MPP, Joyce Savoline, has raised a valid question: “Why are we letting a bad decision move forward?”
Then there is the proposed research project by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. on Islamic banking. I worry about this. What’s the need for such research? Why are we considering implementing Islamic sharia law in Canada’s banking system?
Islamic banking is governed by the rules of Islamic sharia, known as Fiqh al-Muamalat (Islamic rules on transactions). The basic principle of Islamic banking is said to be the sharing of profit and loss and the prohibition of sharing interest. Among the common concepts in Islamic banking are profit sharing (Mudharabah), leasing (Ijarah), safekeeping (Wadiah) and joint venture (Musharakah).
But dense terminology aside, an Islamic mortgage means that instead of loaning the buyer money to purchase a property, a bank might buy the property itself from the vendor and resell it to the buyer at a profit, while allowing the buyer to pay the bank in instalments.
Over the length of the whole process, the buyer has to pay more money to the financial institution in order to satisfy a religious belief. This sort of religious exploitation is itself against the Islamic spirit.
The proponents of Islamic banking in Canada say it’s not a threat — just a banking product. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.
Islamic banking practice is embedded in whole matrix of religiosity.
By introducing it we may directly or indirectly advocate a type of segregation.
Since we claim and declare Canadian society to be a secular one, is there any reason to bring religion into such matters?
If some Muslim imam says tomorrow that a particular science theory doesn’t suit his beliefs, would we start introducing his belief into the science curriculum?
Surely we can find ways to blend diverse cultures in the model of the multicultural mosaic, without encouraging negative and unnecessary differences.
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
(Feb 7, 2008)
 My Column in the Huffington Post

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