Salim Mansur, himself an immigrant to Canada from India, may seem like an unlikely candidate to talk about the dangers posed by other cultures, yet he discussed just that in his McGill lecture on Oct. 17.
Mansur, a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, is known to many as a critic of multiculturalism, governments in the Muslim world, and being staunchly pro-Israel. As a result of his stances, two fatwas have been issued against him.
“We are in a war, in a great global conflict in the beginning of the 21st century and we are again dealing with the question of freedom,” Mansur proclaimed at the beginning of his lecture.
Mansur argued that this war for freedom is a war of ideas and cultures, between those who favoured freedom of expression and liberal ideology, and those opposed to it. According to Mansur, the idea of the former co-existing with the latter is untenable because it implies treating all cultures and values as equal, even when they are not.
“You cannot have equality where the values of the Taliban [are] equal to the [values of] graduates of McGill University and [under law] you had better treat them as equal,” Mansur said. “Multiculturalism, as I came to experience it in Canada over the last four decades … is a delectable lie,” he added.
Marc Fortin, a U2 economics student and chief communications officer of the French section of the Prince Arthur Herald, co-sponsor of the event, found the lecture interesting.
“Multiculturalism is something that is really entrenched in our society right now. It’s something that everyone thinks is normal, but we find that there is a big problem with it,” he said.
“I think as a student, his message was to stand up for what you believe [in] and to stand up for liberty,” Fortin added.
Alexandre Meterissian, a board member of Conservative McGill and student host for the event explained that he brought Mansur to McGill because of his expertise on issues of immigration and multiculturalism.
“It’s good that we have these kind of discussions. It’s a major issue for the next generation, for our generation,” he said. “The main reason we brought the event on campus was to get more students involved.”
The sponsors for Mansur’s talk included Conservative McGill, the International Free Press Society, whuch promotes free speech in Canada, and Act for Canada, a group which, according to its website, seeks to protect Canada from “radical Islam.”
“I am delighted because we actually want young people involved,” Valerie Price, member of Act for Canada, said. “I think it’s really important. I’m really nervous about what’s going on around the world and in my country.”
While Mansur’s message could be considered controversial by some, it was well received by over 100 community members, faculty, and students who came to hear him speak.