In case you missed, it, check out Kyle Matthew’s article in yesterday’s National Post on the role Saudi money has played in the gradual homogenization and radicalization of Islam over the past few decades culminating in a farcical denouement of Riyadh offering Germany aid to build 200 mosques for
migrants refugees currently flooding there.
At first glance it may not seem so problematic that a foreign government is helping to create places of worship and to educate youth in another country’s jurisdiction. But an obsession with spreading and promoting a particular strain of Islam that is diametrically opposed to equal rights for other sects and religious groups should be seen as deeply unsettling to all, for obvious reasons.
From Mali to Nigeria, Pakistan to Syria, Egypt to Libya, Canada to France, extremism and violence are often linked to the particular Wahhabist ideology and belief system that emanates out of Saudi Arabia.
But what to do? Matthews notes Austria’s response which restricts foreign funding of religious institutions and suggests it as something Canada should consider. He’s right, but we need more than a law that just restricts foreign funding of Muslim religious organisations (which would probably fall afoul of the Charter of Rights anyway). We need to ban all foreign monetary donations to Canadian charitable and religious organisations.
Canadians are amongst the wealthiest peoples on the planet. We are more than capable of funding our good works out of our own pockets. And all too often foreign donations to Canadian charities or religious groups are designed to buy influence or to make a triumphalist statement rather than do good. Ever since the earliest settlements in what is now Canada ordinary people have funded the construction of thousands upon thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and schools. All of those people were poorer than we are today and yet they managed without having to take money from foreign interests.
No doubt some of my readers are thinking “Drew’s a right-wing nutter, so of course he hates Muslims and environmentalists”, but there are reasons to adopt such a policy that go beyond any one persons dislikes. How Canadians donate of our money and our time speaks to who we are as a people, what we hold dear, what makes us Canadians. When a group of Canadians fund the construction of a place of worship, or a campaign against oil pipelines, at heart they do so because they believe it will make their little corner of the world a better place. I might doubt the truth of their religion, or the wisdom of the policies they want to see adopted, but as a fellow Canadian I should extend them the courtesy of assuming that their convictions are motivated by a sincere desire to better the community which we share. No such courtesy is owed to foreigners whose allegiances are not to our commonwealth but to their own. When wealthy Americans contribute to anti-pipeline campaigns they do so knowing that they won’t have to bear any of the societal costs (unemployment, poverty) that may result from the implementation of their preferred polices. They don’t have skin in the game.
Banning foreign contributions would impact many Canadian charities. But many of the largest organisations (CARE Canada, Ducks Unlimited, World Vision Canada to name some) have sister organisations operating in other countries where foreign donors could be referred. And in any event, if their operations within Canada are unduly affected, perhaps that should just spur us as Canadians to donate a little more.