Keysar Trad, the controversial founder of Australia's Islamic Friendship Society, is very upset. At the opening of a prayer center last week, he accused local officials of erecting excessive barriers to the construction of Islamic facilities. When Muslims are not permitted to build where they wish, he said, the governments effectively are "forcing people to go to one particular area, even though they don't live in that particular area." This, Trad argued, imposes a "ghetto" mindset on a community that has been "very resistant to ghettoization."
No word yet on whether he is peeved with Muslims from the Islamic Council of Western Australia, which not only desires segregation, but works to bring it about. Its plan to include Muslim-only housing in a $10 million complex is troubling enough. Far worse is the warped logic behind the endeavor:
[Spokesman] Ghauri rejected claims the housing would further isolate sectors of the Muslim community from mainstream society, claiming the venue would be used to teach Islamic youth how to become good Australian citizens.
And the council's religious adviser, Abdul Jalil Ahmad, said it was useful for different religious or ethnic groups to have separate residential enclaves so their customs and exotic cooking smells did not offend neighbors.
"It's ideal for any ethnic group because you can deal with each other in an easier way," Mr. Ahmad said.
"In South Africa, because of apartheid, all different communities were set up and it worked well. It kept people separate. We can be together in terms of our contribution to the wider community."
Not only does the hierarchy insist that segregation somehow aids the integration process; it also views apartheid-era South Africa as an intercultural golden age and model for the future. Blacks who lived through those decades as second-class citizens might disagree with the notion that apartheid "worked well" for them.
Ramdas Sankaran, president of the Ethnic Communities Council, rightly called the plans for segregated housing a "deplorable" idea that would damage societal cohesion. "Self-exclusion is just as bad as being excluded by other parties in Australia," he said. "It's not in the interests of any group."
But Sankaran is wrong on one point. Self-exclusion is very much in the interests of Islamists who wish to divide and conquer the West from within. And that is why separatism must be discouraged wherever it appears, from a "black Muslim enclave" in Philadelphia, to a series of no-go zones in Great Britain, and now to a proposed Muslim-only residence in Australia.