Throughout the last several months of the campaign there have been accusations of overt racism from all corners, but sometimes we’re confronted with the more direct kind. This is apparently the case in Mississauga where a simple rezoning meeting seems to have blown up in full display of some of the ugliness of our beloved suburban enclaves.
As reported by the CBC, things at a planning committee meeting in Mississauga got pretty intense when among the speakers to come before the committee was Kevin Johnston, one of the most vocal opponents to the new Meadowvale Islamic Centre on Winston Churchill Boulevard, conveniently across the road from Meadowvale Town Centre. Johsnton is the author of the poster above, and the website it refers your to.
The poster lists typical concerns like increased traffic, taxed resources, and incompatibility with the neighbourhood, but the website went further suggesting that the construction of the mosque would also result in increases in sexual assault, vandalism, kidnappings, and a loss of freedom of speech in the area. When Mayor Bonnie Crombie confronted Johnston about his website’s comments, the exchange was captured on video.
You will note that Johnston’s website, StopTheMosque.com, has since been taken down, but he owns another site, some kind of local news site called “The Jackal” on which he responded to Crombie about her “attempt to embarrass” him, and reiterated the least offensive points of his argument. You’ll note the distinct lack of the “hate-mongering” Crombie referred to.
The vexing thing is that these are old arguments, at least the parts about increased traffic and mismatching buildings. Those were the same arguments that those against the Sikh temple in the south of Guelph, ones promoted on a website called “Stop The Temple,” which was quickly taken down after word was getting around that the people behind that opposition team were using development worries to cover racism:
“First its a Sikh Temple. Next it will be a Mosque. Both are violent cults and next it will be a memorial to martyrs aka terrorists. We must stop this eastern influence.”
“So any middle eastern minority wants something, They’d better get it! If we oppose..we are all racist, and discriminating! God forbid we offend these people. Last I checked, they are suicide bombers, child molesters, they kill their kids because they go out after dark, rapists, Con artists, Scammers. Sorry no offence I dont want to take the risk of hundreds more moving to this community, and opening hundreds of corner stores, pizza pizza’s and subways. Enough is enough. You have Brampton. Move there, stay there, and leave our city alone.”
Guelph finally broke ground on the Sikh temple earlier this month, and it was done with more fanfare than derision from whatever elements that might still exist that are against it. The Mississauga council’s planning committee also approved the re-zoning for the mosque despite the few voices of dissent that, like “The Jackal,” think they can mask their Islamophobia with semi-legitimate concerns about the impact on the area.