A Canadian flag in front of every mosque

That’s the new goal of a group set up to boost Muslim voter turnout

A Canadian flag flies in the wind at Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday June 30, 2014. A Canadian flag was removed from a Manitoba advance polling station over the weekend because a worker felt it violated election rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A Canadian flag flies in the wind at Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday June 30, 2014. A Canadian flag was removed from a Manitoba advance polling station over the weekend because a worker felt it violated election rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Jawad Rathore wants to see a big Canadian flag flying from a prominently positioned flagpole in front of every mosque in the country to send the simple message that Muslims are proud Canadians.

The real estate development executive pitched the idea this week in a suburban Toronto banquet hall to a crowd of about 700 supporters of the Canadian-Muslim Vote, a non-partisan organization that made its mark by campaigning to boost turnout among Muslim voters in last fall’s federal election.

The group’s July 13 inaugural dinner to mark Eid, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, drew dozens of federal, provincial and municipal politicians, with federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister John McCallum delivering the keynote speech.

But Rathore took the podium earlier and proved a hard act to follow. The 39-year-old chief executive of Fortress Real Developments, father (as he mentioned more than once) of six children under seven, is a massively built six foot three. His exuberant speaking style is as hard to ignore as his physical presence, and he offered an upbeat overview of the place of Muslims in Canada today. “For the first time ever, it’s kind of cool to be Muslim,” he proclaimed, arguing that every outburst of anti-Islamic bigotry tends to be followed by even more forceful statement of support for the Muslim community from sympathetic non-Muslims.

From our podcast: Listen to John Geddes in conversation with Jawad Rathore

Still, Rathore proposed that Muslims should send a clear signal of patriotism by flying the Canadian flag in front of their mosques. In an interview with Maclean’s, he framed the initiative as a natural follow-up to the group’s push to boost the Muslim vote. (The Canadian-Muslim Vote points to exit polls that suggest the percentage of voting-age Muslims who cast a ballot might have soared to 79 per cent in the 2015 election, from an estimated 46.5 per cent in 2011.)

“We thought this would be a great opportunity,” Rathore said. “As we talked to the Muslim community about the most Canadian thing you can do, which is to vote, we [wondered], ‘What else can we do to engage with the community?’ And that’s where the team came up with this really exciting idea of getting big Canadian flags in front of every mosque across Canada.”

Although Rathore sees a high level of acceptance of Muslims in Canada, he doesn’t deny his community remains misunderstood by too many. “There’s a sense when you talk to people about Islamophobia, or even just people’s general unawareness of Islam, they think because of some of the things they see and hear that Muslims choose to exclude themselves, that Muslims choose to segregate themselves,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He said most Muslims want to be seen as part of the Canadian social fabric. “Nothing really says that more than a Canadian flag going up,” he said. “Sometimes the simplest medium is the most effective one.”

Rathore brings a business branding perspective to the image challenge facing Muslims. Fortress Real Developments, headquartered just north of Toronto, has real estate projects under way in six provinces. “You look at some of the big U.S. brands that have come north of the border, and Wal-Mart is one of the big examples: at every supercentre they have there is a huge Canadian flag,” he said.

“When they were coming up here, there was the usual rhetoric about ugly Americans, and Wal-Mart made the very simple gesture of saying, ‘We recognize that we are not seen as being from here, we’re outsiders, we’re strangers, and we are coming to Canada’—and they erected these huge flags.”

At the Eid dinner, Rathore showed slides of major mosques, then clicked to the same photos adorned with rudimentary illustrations of Canadian flags flying in front of them. It wasn’t high-tech, but it seemed to convey what he has in mind. In the 24 hours after the dinner, he said groups called, emailed and texted with offers to sponsor 55 flag poles at mosques. His company will pay for the first 10, though.

The Canadian-Muslim Vote plans to take the next few weeks to figure out how to proceed, Rathore said, and hopes to start putting up flagpoles in September or October.


A Canadian flag in front of every mosque

  1. I understand and admire the intent……but no, this is not a good idea.

  2. Perhaps, the Canadian flag will look different under Sharia law.

  3. Perhaps, the Canadian flag will look different under Sharia law.

  4. Every little bit counts. And this is thinking outside the box, which I admire. In this day and age where Muslims are being denigrated all around the world for the “sins” of the few, this may be seen as good signal that those here in Canada respect Canada.

    • It could easily be argued that “these here in Canada” are no different to those in any other country.

      I am reminded by a conversation with a Muslim some time ago when asked, “Will we soon have Sharia law in Canada?” The answer, “No.” was quickly followed by, “But we are very patient people”.

      Be very careful of what you wish for.

      • They are not here to assimilate….they are here to take over! That little pissant Justin is helping them to win votes….selling us out in the process!

        • Moslems have been here since the beginning of the county….did you fall asleep in history class?

  5. Well, read between the lines. Put up a Canadian flag, so people will have a better view of you, just like Walmart. Take advantage of the way the media focuses on so-called “Islamophobia” so we can be portrayed in a sympathetic light. Have a bunch of kids, and vote, vote, vote. Notice there’s nothing in this article about trying to get Muslims to embrace Canadian values – it’s just about getting them to vote. We’ve already seen Muslim advocacy groups pushing for Sharia to be implemented here. In Toronto there’s swim classes where a father can’t watch his daughter compete because that would violate Sharia. But why should Canadians have to conform to some religious law?

    So we can see how this goes: this guy has 6 kids to my 2, he’s aggressive with rallying his fellow Muslims to vote in blocs. What do we think the long-term future here is? Does this sound like the country we want our grandchildren to live in?

    • Um….there are over a million Moslems in Canada. More Moslems than Jews in fact.

      They’ve been here since 1867…..you just woke up?

      • Yea, there’s plenty of Muslims here. My point is: more Muslims, more problems. This article should be chilling to anyone who’s following the attempts by Muslim advocacy groups to slowly but surely implement Sharia. Not to mention, anyone who observes any country that has a significant Muslim population.

        • Gosh just like the dirty Irish, and the Yellow Peril and the criminal Vietnamese and all the other nonsense morons have worried about JohnD80

          What country did YOUR family come from hmmm?

          • My family came from Italy and Hungary. So is there any defense of Islam that doesn’t come down to logical fallacies and weak deflections? Lol, is Irish an ideology that isn’t compatible with Western values? Are Vietnamese constantly lobbying to get concessions to them at the expense of the native population? Are either committing terror attacks or sexual assaults at the rate that we see from Muslims in Europe? Go tell a woman who got assaulted on NYE in Cologne in a Muslim and had her government and media try to cover it up about how it’s “nonsense”. Or go tell a family member of a victim of the Paris attacks….or Brussels..or Nice…or 9/11, Fort Hood, San bernardino, Orlando, etc. Or the people who got attacked on a train in Germany the other day by an axe-wielding Muslim. Or the woman and her daughters in France who got attacked by a Muslim the other day for not dressing modestly enough.

        • Irish? You don’t remember the violent protestant/catholic wars and upheavals?

          Italians m’dear weren’t even considered white until we allowed in people from Nigeria and such. Italians were considered ‘olive-skinned’.

          Hungarians were ‘bohunks’ and not considered very bright. Common labourers.

          Crime and diseases were major concerns with the Vietnamese

          Your family came from other countries and did just fine.

          Everyone in Canada came from somewhere else.

          So don’t use the phrase ‘logical fallacies ‘ when you don’t know what it means.

          Look up ‘dog in the manger’ instead.

          • You’re talking ethnicities, I’m talking about an ideology. You’re talking about perceptions, I’m talking about reality. Logical fallacies are exactly what you and other Islam apologists rely on, because you have nothing else. Pointing to the Troubles in Northern Ireland is a pathetic deflection. How many dead bodies will it take? How many women raped and molested will it take? Do the Cologne attacks on NYE and the subsequent cover-up make you feel uncomfortable? What about the We Are Sthlm sexual assaults and the cover-up there? What about the constant lobbying here in Canada for Sharia implementation and the concessions made by our Human Rights Commission?

            What it comes down to is you “progressives” just can’t admit that you’re wrong. Wait until the next terror attack, add a facebook filter, “pray for the victims”, etc. But never admit that Islam is a problem.

        • Actually you’re trying to narrow the definition so it only fits Moslems….you must be trying to get your money’s worth out of the robe and hood.

          PS Don’t use ‘they’re a’commin for our wimmenfolk”! bullshit…..we already live in a ‘rape culture’ in the west

          PPS I’m not a ‘progressive’ That’s an American term

          • Lol we live in a rape culture. You’ve been brainwashed. Literally all you have is to call someone who disagrees with you a KKK member. Seems like the only rape culture in the West is in parts of Europe now…..the parts where they let a lot of Muslims in. I gave you 2 examples of mass sexual assault in Europe that victimized European women but was covered up by authorities and media but you ignore them because they make you uncomfortable. Here’s another one: the Rochdale sex trafficking ring.

            I stand by what I said before: more Muslims, more problems.

          • Why do you persist in ignorance JohnD?

            You wanna go fight someone, join the army

            Lying is not an acceptable substitute for knowledge.

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