Canada is more tolerant of immigrants than Europe and less afraid of terrorist attacks than the United States, meaning it could be a model for faithful Muslims trying to integrate into Western society, says a controversial Islamic scholar.
Tariq Ramadan has two reservations: Canada must stop thinking of itself as peripheral to the debate and it must not knuckle under to U.S. policies.
Mr. Ramadan spoke to CanWest News Service from his office in London, England, just before departing for Ottawa where he will speak to the Islamic Society of North America conference here this weekend.
Some 3,000 Muslims from across Canada and around the world are expected at the event.
Mr. Ramadan, whose books include “In the Footsteps of the Prophet” and “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam”, says he has been working for the past 20 years trying to build bridges between Muslims and their communities.
He will be speaking with Ingrid Mattson, the first female, and first Canadian to become president of the society.
Time magazine named Mr. Ramadan one of its 100 innovators of the new century. British Prime Minister Tony Blair consulted him after terrorist attacks in London.
Yet the United States denied him a visa that would have allowed him to take a prestigious teaching post at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
Various Arabic governments have also denied him entry, calling him an infidel.
In a way, it is hardly surprising.
His message seems contradictory, calling for a return to the roots of Islam as well as a vigorous role in the public square.
Some fear he is at the forefront of the “Islamification” of Europe. Others are uncomfortable with his economic policy which decries globalization as simply wrong.
The worst thing the Muslim community can do, he says, is isolate itself from the society around it, making itself a ghetto.
“We are living in a state of fear, on both sides. You need to promote what I call a revolution of trust.”
Public policy gets warped by this mistrust until “it’s all about control and security. It’s wrong. (Muslims) are citizens, they have the same rights.”
He said the community needs to pool its leaders in all faiths and walks of life so co-operation is already established before a crisis erupts.
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after a May 19th, 2007 article by Jennifer Green in The Ottawa Citizen