The international controversy over Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad reverberated in Toronto yesterday — with hurt and sadness in the mosques and action in grocery stores.
Muslim-owned groceries removed Danish products from their stores, joining a worldwide boycott stemming from publication of the cartoons.
"Value is more important than business," said Hanif Kotwal, store manager at Iqbal's, a large supermarket in Toronto's Thorncliffe Park, home to the city's largest concentration of Muslims. "Even if it hurts our business, we have to show solidarity."
At Iqbal's, Kotwal posted signs reading, "We don't carry products from Denmark." Employees checked various items to see where they came from.
Customers backed the store's stand, which has seen items such as cookies and deep-fried onions taken off the shelves.
"I'd rather fry (onions) myself than buy their stuff," said Masood Hadi, who visits Iqbal's four or five times a week to shop for groceries.
And once again, we have a quote from an academic who doesn't get it:
Ruth Mas, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the blasphemy in this case stems not simply from the act of depicting Muhammad, but from the "awful" depictions of Muhammad in the cartoons.
"The issue of blasphemy comes in with disrespect," she said. "You cannot uncouple the issue."
Still, Akbar said, Canadian Muslims are much less likely to take to the streets in protest.
"This thing would not happen in Canada," he said. "Canada is a great success story of justice and tolerance."
I doubt that Ms. Mas has ever expressed the same outrage at the desecration of Christian or Jewish religious symbols, which seem to be par for the course in the modern academic and artistic worlds, as an indication of self-loathing and contempt for the very culture that gave them the freedom to do so.
Her last sentence is an affirmation of the blitheness and naivete that afflict so much of our country's governing classes. Had these cartoons been drawn by Canadian cartoonists and published in the Globe and Mail, Canadian Muslims would have reacted just the same way.
But the Canadian multicultural myth looks so much more appealling from an academic ivory tower in white-bread Waterloo than it does in multi-culti central, downtown Toronto.
Source: Toronto Star