Making Room for Others

November 22, 2006

Author: Joe Sinasac

Source: The Catholic Register/Catholic Online

A recent poll suggests that Canadians still embrace multiculturalism and religious diversity. At the same time, the survey shows that at some point newcomers must find ways to accommodate themselves to this country’s deepest principles.

This should not be a surprise. Canada is a country of immigrants, right from its aboriginal denizens who came from Asia and dispersed across the North American continent thousands of years ago.

But neither should it be taken for granted, especially as all Western nations strain to accommodate within their societies immigrants from Muslim nations who arrive with radically different notions about such matters as the role of women and religion in public life.

Former British foreign minister Jack Straw brought the tension into the open in England recently when he admitted that he was uncomfortable talking to female Islamic constituents who wear the burka (a garment that covers the entire body, including the face). He said he often asks them to remove the facial screen so he can talk with them eye-to-eye.