Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calgary's new Mayor - Naheed Nenshi

Calgary's new Mayor is global news.

From the sify news in India, to the London Mosque newsletter.
From the front page of The Ismaili to Qalam, Nenshi is big news in the muslim world.

The one place it seems, where Naheed (pronounced na-head) is today NOT known primarily as a muslim is here in Calgary.
Our western Canadian city seems to have a well deserved 'red neck reputation' everywhere, as we are the home of the Calgary Stampede, The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and many of us in Calgary don't think of 'red-neck' as being a particularly bad thing.
To us, 'red-neck' means honest, hardworking, intelligent, independent, resourceful, family oriented and fair minded. To an overwhelming number of Calgarians yesterday, that also described Mr. Nenshi.

As Licia Corbella so eloquently points out in her column today, "Albertans are among the most egalitarian, colour-blind, fair-minded people in the country, if not the world. For some reason, (that's) a well-kept secret."

Kevin Libin backs that up in his column in the National Post yesterday, "Race played no part in Nenshi win. During Mr. Nenshi’s five-month drive to the mayor’s chair, which catapulted him from a feeble 8% popularity just one month ago, the subject of his Ismaili heritage and his chestnut hue was scarcely mentioned."

Nenshi himself downplayed his muslim faith, saying "This has not been an issue in the election". Even early on when someone tossed a brick through the window of his campaign headquarters, there was a brief discussion that the incident could be race related, but it was quickly forgotten by Calgarians. We're way past that!

So who is this new Mayor? That's the most interesting question, as only 6 months ago no one had ever heard of him. His two closest rivals in the race both had many, many years of public 'face & name' exposure. It was literally inconceivable at the beginning of this race that he was a contender.

For a closer look at who Nenshi is, as described by his sister Shaheen, watch this short video. For an example of how articulate, intelligent and downright 'red-neck' likeable this guy is, watch him interviewed by a professional reporter here, and in front of a group of undecided voters in a local watering hole here. At the 45:40 mark Naheed discusses briefly his muslim faith, and then expresses his support for the gay pride parade. He compares the parade with the Good Friday 'stations of the cross' parade . . . ... I'll comment more on that another time, but the impression I get is that he's going to be a very secular leader. My Mom even asked me if he's gay, and I told her I didn't care. That's his personal business, and while it would of course affect his world view, it should no more be an issue than his faith in our secular democracy.

So where does Nenshi stand in regard to his 'faith'? As anyone who reads my blog can see, I have no use for islam. I believe it is the single most dangerous issue facing western culture, and it's national leaders world wide are almost all violent, mysoginist retards. There, is that 'red-neck' enough for you?

The ismaili bunch, led by the Aga Khan, seem to be the most overtly peaceful. However as usual, they believe the Qur'an has several layers of meaning, and they generally divide those types of meanings into the following two: the apparent (zahir) meaning and the hidden (batin) meaning. While a 'believer' can understand the batin meaning to some extent, the ultimate interpretation lies in the office of the Imāmate.

The Imām's farmans (teachings) are binding upon the community. In this way, the Ismāʿīlī community can adapt to new times and new places. Oftentimes, the Imam of the Time is known as the "Qur'an e Naatiq" (the "speaking Qur'an"), meaning that he reinterprets the literary text in a way that can be understood for today's times. This is probably the source of the joke, "If islam really teaches that it is a peaceful religion, why are so many it's students flunking the course?" It's the Imam, silly. But we don't even know how often Nenshi attends mosque, if he ever does.

So all in all, I can say I'm happy with the choice that Calgary made, in a democratic, non-violent election that saw over 50% of the civic population cast a ballot. Over 50% voter turnout. This election was clearly important to a lot of people, and the lines at the over 270 polling stations often extended around the block. The fact that his 'muslim-ish-ness' didn't become an issue until after the election is probably more an acknowledgement by Nenshi himself that his 'faith' isn't all that important to him. I actually have some sympathy for him, as he'll probably have some of our more radical imams here in town trying to ingratiate themselves shortly. I hope he sends them packing.

That's the kind of muslim I can live with as Mayor.


  1. I think of the Ismailis as business-oriented muslims. They are really good at wealth creation... and I mean that in a good way.
    They are not liked by the Al-Qaeda bunch, the Sunni muslims.
    However, let's wait and see if the new mayor of Calgary will make nice-nice with brothers of his faith only because they belong to the same cult, or whether he will value and treasure his Canadian-ish-ness more than the cult.
    Deeds will speak louder than the interviews and speeches he has given.

  2. Hopefully he'll give Syed Sowardy the respect he deserves, which is none.