Sunday, October 27, 2013
City of Toronto gives OK to controversial mural
Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti says no action will be taken on the part of the city when it comes to a municipally-funded mural on the side of a mosque at 1330 Gerrard St. E. The mural’s script — written in Arabic in colourful calligraphy — consists of a passage from the Qur’an which translates to “With Allah’s blessing, a victory is near.”
Some say it refers to the victory of overcoming life’s adversities. Others insisted it stands for victory over non-Muslims.
The mural, funded by the city’s StreetART program, was completed in 2012. A petition surfaced calling for its removal.
Tarek Fatah, a Toronto Sun columnist and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, complained about the mural to Councillor Paula Fletcher, sparking the review by city officials.
Pennachetti wrote to Fatah on Friday, saying that the city’s office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights was involved in the review and that the mural’s creator and Islamic law expert Anver Emon, a professor at University of Toronto, were consulted.
“We are satisfied with the responses that have been provided during our preliminary inquiries into your concerns and do not believe that the mural is contrary to City policy or Canadian law,” writes Pennachetti.
“There are various ways by which to determine what these words mean,” wrote Emon in his assessment of the mural. “Can they be made to valorize militancy? Sure. Can they be a source of comfort for people suffering economic hardship as they struggle to feed their children? Sure.”
City of Toronto spokesman Jackie DeSouza said it was all about the interpretation of art.
“I think the people in the community, many of them were Muslim ... nobody expressed concerns about the mural,” said DeSouza, suggesting that complainants could take the issue to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Fatah points to the Tafsir Ibn Kthir, a commentary on the Qur’an that states the passage means “if you fight in Allah’s cause and support his religion, he will grant you victory.”
Fatah, who said the slogan is sometimes inscribed on weapons, calls the defence of the mural a smokescreen.
“This is not art at all,” insisted Fatah, adding nobody from the city consulted him or other moderate Muslims about the mural’s message. “If they are so confident that they are right, then why is there reluctance to meet with us?”
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