Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Muslim Mayor For Calgary

Calgary!  Cowtown!  Theoretically the most redneck city in Canada!  (There goes that misconception.)  Naheed Nenshi ran a superb campaign, beating two very mainstream candidates - one with an experienced, professional big blue Tory political machine behind him.  The Toronto-born, Calgary-raised bachelor son of Tanzanian immigrants, Nenshi is obviously bright (Master's degree from Harvard) and tech-savvy (Twitter was a campaign tool).  He reminds me of another (quieter) young came-to-Canada-when-he-was-three-months-old Muslim Calgary professional I know.  As a big believer in Canadian secularism, anybody who puts any faith before their fellow man or their responsibility as a citizen is not only sad - but undermines exactly what their forebearers came to Canada for in the first place in my view.  (It would be disingenuous of me to pretend that's not what many Calgarians woke up worried about the morning after the election.)  My friend was always under enormous pressure from his family to be a Muslim first and indications are that he succumbed.  I hope Nenshi doesn't.  I hope he's the best mayor Calgary has ever had.  I hope he doesn't allow the ghetto-ization of Calgary Muslims in their own future subdivision as has been proposed.  I hope he didn't get elected with some sort of religion-backed agenda.  I hope he is a shining example of what our country can do for first-generation Canadians - and what they can do for Canada in return.  (After all, I married one.)  He may not even realize it, but Mr. Nenshi has a tremendous opportunity here not only to benefit Calgary, but to change the average Canadian's perception of Islam.  Good Luck, Mr. Nenshi, do Canada proud!