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|Thursday, May 23rd, 2013|
Talk explores multiculturalism and the value of cultures
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Published: Friday, May 4th, 2012
Canadian society is made up of people from cultures all over the world. But do all cultures have equal value? That’s the big question that Tarek Fatah – author, broadcaster, social activist, Muslim and champion for a secular society – will explore when he gives a talk for the Humanist Association of London and Area on May 9.
“The subject is about multiculturalism and religion, but it will go broader than that,” he explained. “I’m going to touch on the dangers of equating all cultures as equal instead of the time-honoured vision of having all races and all people as equal. That’s a distinction that I want people to gather. I understand most of the audience is secular humanist, which means they don’t have a stake in religion at all. Increasingly, cultures are all interlaced with religious practice and vice versa.”
Fatah gave the examples of a tribe that facially scars its members as a mean of identification or a culture that requires its members to wear daggers in public places such as schools. “... That’s not something that I would consider worthy of accepting and I would challenge that,” he said. “The challenge to such cultural practices must be based on the merit of the argument, not whether somebody’s offended by that.”
When asked if he thought the talk would be controversial, Fatah said he couldn’t be sure. “There’s more of a guilt and fear that anyone challenging the notion that all cultures are of equal value – people are scared to voice their opposition to this.”
On his website, Fatah describes himself as a liberal Muslim, but “that’s for lack of a better word,” he said. “I would rather call myself a secular Muslim: I believe in separation of religion and state. I don’t care what sort of a label it is, what I stand for is what I can explain ... the media has created definitions that suit them, not what people stand for.”
Fatah was born and raised in Pakistan, and he moved to Canada in 1987. He has been an active voice for gay and lesbian rights, an opponent to the adoption of sharia law in Ontario and an advocate for a “liberal, progressive form” of Islam. He was one of the founders of the Muslim Canadian Congress, an organization that aims to give a voice to Muslims in Canada. He has written two books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
Fatah’s May 9 talk will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at the Wolf Performance Hall in the Central Library (251 Dundas St.). Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
For more information about HALA, check out humanists-london.org. To learn more about Fatah, visit tarekfatah.com.