Toronto’s motto is “Diversity Our Strength.” According to the city’s official website, it is where “more than 150 languages are spoken daily and where 50 percent of [its 2.7 million] residents are born outside of Canada.”
When multiculturalism was declared official national policy in 1971, some citizens bristled, but others merely envisioned — to employ one Canadian blogger’s cynical expression — “more pavilions at Folkfest.” Already the destination of choice for many immigrants, Toronto duly appointed itself the country’s capital of multiculturalism.
Decades later, though, a large influx of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere is putting “tolerant” Toronto to the test.
Like newcomers before them, Muslims are eagerly courted by politicians, who are accustomed to treating Canada’s urban “ethnics” as colorful yet mostly harmless voting blocks. And, in turn, Muslims are requesting accommodation for various religious and cultural practices, just like every group before them — except that sometimes these demands are at odds with Canada’s Judeo-Christian heritage and “liberal” self-image.
All the while, the number of Muslims in the city is growing rapidly. Unlike a comparable city such as New York, which is about 9% Jewish and 3.5% Muslim, the same demographic ratio in Toronto is reversed: 6.7% Muslim to 4.2% Jewish. This is a fairly recent development and the trend seems destined to continue. According to the latest Statistics Canada report, “Toronto’s population of Arabs and West Asians could more than triple between 2006 and 2031. … People with a non-Christian religion could represent nearly 31% of the census metropolitan area’s population by 2031, up from 21% in 2006.”
The advent of this “inverse ratio” coincides with the growing influence of Toronto’s organized Islamists. After all, Toronto is where Israeli Apartheid Week got its start, at the city’s two major universities back in 2005. York University in particular has become a hotbed of anti-Israel activism — and worse. Last year, Jewish students were forced to barricade themselves in the Hillel office after being set upon by an angry pro-Palestinian mob shouting racist slurs.
Such an occurrence would have been unthinkable ten years ago. Today, it takes its place in a litany of distressing post-9/11 developments. From the arrest of the “Toronto 18,” charged with plotting to behead the prime minister, to revelations about rampant polygamy and “welfare harems,” the picture painted of the city’s Muslim community is not always flattering or reassuring.
For instance: throughout January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, thousands of area Muslims gathered each Saturday outside the Israeli consulate at one of the city’s busiest intersections. American and Israeli flags were burned, Jewish counter-protesters were verbally threatened, and Hezbollah standards were raised — even though Hezbollah is deemed an illegal terrorist group by the Canadian government.