A controversial Muslim scholar who has been barred from entering the United
States and France says Muslims and mainstream Canadians have a kind of
“binary vision” that fosters mutual distrust and fear.
“We live together, but we don’t know each other,” Tariq Ramadan said
yesterday in a lecture at the University of Ottawa.
“There is a lack of trust. To tell you the truth, what I am feeling when
travelling in the West is that this is real deep. This mutual lack of trust
is adding to the confusion, misunderstanding and ignorance. And the picture
is really, really bad if we don’t work together,” said Mr. Ramadan, author
of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam.
This mutual mistrust is compounded by mutual fear, he added. “When you
speak with Muslims, the first thing they say is, ‘They don’t know us, they
don’t like us, they don’t like Islam.”
At the same time, mainstream Canadians are concerned Muslims are out to
“Islamize Canada,” he said. “So you have a mentality of us versus them
coming from both sides. This is the worst you can have. We have to get rid
of this binary vision of reality, this mentality of us and them.”
Mr. Ramadan’s lecture opened a three-day symposium on citizenship,
democracy and the future of Islam. The symposium is sponsored by Muslim
Presence Canada and CAIR CAN, the Council of American-Islamic Relations,