Looks like Muslims are causing communal tension again this time with the residents of Markham, Ontario. The issue is over the approved construction of a 28,000-sq. ft. Mosque to be built on Markham's 16th avenue just east of St. Brother Andre Catholic School.
Opponents charge the Mosque will cause disruptive traffic congestion along with potential parking and traffic overflow issues. But the main concern, it appears, is the the Mosque will disrupt the historic atmosphere of Markham's town core. This is a real concern after all since, according to the report, Markham town council rejected the construction of a Taoist temple for that reason ruling it "out of character with the community" as if a 28,000-sq. ft. Mosque isn't. So as it is with Christianity it's Taoism out, Mohammed in.
Responding to the rejection of the design of the Taoist temple one of the architects stated that the project was "oriented to Steeles Avenue" and that "Steeles Avenue is a neighbourhood in transition" implying concerns over aesthetic compatibility with Markham's historic town core setting are nonsense. So here lies the conflict: you have two group - Taoists and Muslims - who want to effect cultural change on an apparent unreceptive townspeople who find value in preserving the historic character of the neighbourhood in which they live. Who's side should prevail?
It's not like the Taoists and Muslims do not have options. Facing negative public reaction they could do the neighbourly thing and move their projects elsewhere in town. This will be an act of mutual accommodation the residents of Markham may find endearing and consequently build good interfaith and cross-cultural relations. Of course this is not what happened.
When it comes to issues like this I have come to expect the introduced faiths and cultures to Canadian society to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to build good relations with their Canadian neighbours. Prompted with a multiculti fuelled raging sense of entitlement the Taoists expect to build where they want to irrespective of the concerns of their neighbours and the hopes of the town council that they would build elsewhere. As for Muslims, with Allah on their side and doing His work they just do not give a damn as long as they get what they want even in the face of a petition wanting them to build elsewhere. We Canadians should be familiar with this by now: we accommodate them, they do not accommodate us.
The Taoists refuse to budge on point of principal. "If we are out of sight, we are out of mind," stated a spokesperson in the report which seems to suggest they want to shove their culture in as many faces as possible even if we are all content with ourselves by ignoring it.
For the Muslims I think the issue is the same but one better: it is also about conquest. The Mosque is not being built in any part of Markham. It is being built in it's historic town core. This is symbolic for several reasons.
One is it is a stamp of Islamic permanence by co-opting an historic setting. This suggests that Islam is now apart of local history ignoring the fact Islam had nothing to do with the establishment and development of the town itself. But this does not really matter in the long-term. What really matters now is that Islam can affect any future cultural direction the town makes which we can reasonably suppose will be done out of self interest.
This leads to the second reason: the appropriation of an historic setting implies that Markham's future, or at least a part of it, belongs to Islam; that pre-Islamic Markham is a thing of the past to be forgotten and possibly destroyed. The disconnect between a newly built Mosque designed to bring attention to itself and its pre-Islamic setting is making that statement. I do not think the choice to design the Mosque to reference the Taj Mahal in India is purely for aesthetic reasons. The Taj Mahal is one of Islam's grandest symbols of Islamic permanence in a region where Islam didn't exist before. It also harkens to the days of Muslim conquest in south Asia.
For any of this to be possible Markham's residents must allow the surrender and slow death of any semblance to the town's history. Muslims and Taosits (amongst others) cannot preserve their culture and history on Canadian soil alongside Canadian culture and history. Someone has to give and time and time again it is us Canadians doing the accommodating. This is at great cost to us because a people estranged from their history have no sense of self in the present and is lost to the future.
One last thing. The rejection of the Taoist temple was criticized as a case of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) in the linked article above by a proponent and I think this generally describes Canadian attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism and why it is mistakenly perceived as being a "success" in this country as nations the world over are rejecting it. Canadians are typically warmer to mass immigration and multiculturalism so long as they do not have to see it. If they have places to go to escape it then they do it. That is why in Toronto there are white majority neighbourhoods almost free of any evidence of immigration and multiculturalism. And that is how the white residents in these neighbourhoods like it. They won't admit to it but actions speak louder than words and where they choose to live and what neighbours they want speaks volumes about their real preferences.
The residents of Markham do not have problems with Taoists and Muslims so long as they can be moved to the corner and out of the way where they can easily be ignored. This is so that they can go on for one more day pretending that the colonization of their town and country is not happening but this solution to their discomfort is superficial. The core of the problem is with our immigration system and the colonizing effect it is having on the country. If they truly cherish Markham's historic town core then they need to address this fact or else lose it forever.
If you are interested in signing the petition here it is again.