To start with, the 0 million price tag on the privately funded project begs the immediate question: who is paying for this?
Secondly, the Ismailis who practice this do so out of love and devotion for their Imam and not because they are under duress to do so.
You also fail to mention that the majority of the AKDN's budget is funded by the Aga Khan personally.
Referred to as “His Highness” by global dignitaries, the Aga Khan IV is a billionaire tycoon who, alongside his status as a religious leader, is also the top breeder of thoroughbred horses in France, owns a bank in Pakistan, plantations in Kenya, and a chain of luxury hotels together with his private jet and massive walled estate in Chantilly, France – making his personal wealth estimated at over billion.
Publicly renown as a philanthropist, he individually oversees the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), one of the largest private development networks in the world.
In fact, a 2006 BC Business profile of the Ismaili community described it as almost “too good to be true”, listing BC’s richest Ismaili families including luxury hotel owners, mineral resource developers, real-estate moguls and more, many worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ismailis are required to give 5 – 12% of their annual income to the Aga Khan, who is then said to allocate the funds to various non-profit ventures (concrete facts are hard to come by with the intense privacy restrictions – Ismaili centres are among the only Muslim places of worship in the world that are not open to outsiders).
Canada has been no stranger to this, evident in the legitimization of the invasion of Afghanistan by claiming the need to “save” oppressed Afghani women; the controversies around Shari’a Law in Ontario; Herouxville and the Reasonable Accommodation debates in Quebec; the five Muslim security certificate detainees, all but one now released (on strict conditions of house arrest) after years of later-deemed unconstitutional detention; the refusal to bring home Omar Khadr, Guantanamo Bay's youngest prisoner and only Western citizen despite global calls to do so; the ongoing trials of the Toronto 18, charged with allegations of terrorism despite a paucity of publicized evidence and the revelation of an RCMP informant heavily compensated to incite the young men involved; and the government’s explicit instruction to Syria and Egypt to torture numerous Muslim Canadians, of which Maher Arar is the most famous. Yet, Stephen Harper would like us to know that he does not hate Muslims and is committed to peace and diversity – after all, both he and notorious Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney were present to launch the new museum and heap praise upon the Aga Khan and the initiative. Mahmood Mamdani’s 2004 book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim opens by presenting a thesis: in contemporary political discourse, there is a clear division between the “good” Muslims – the peace-loving, open-minded, well-educated, secular-leaning, patriotic citizens – and the “bad” – the dogmatic, conservative, sexist, homophobic, likely-violent haters of the West and democracy (who often also happen to be non-citizens, poor, and bearded or veiled).
With the elaborate Aga Khan Museum set to be located in an area with one of the highest proportions of lower-income Muslims in Canada, serving more to gentrify the neighbourhood than to support the resident community, it is thus unsurprising that Toronto Star reporter Christopher Hume says of the project, “Unlike most such religious/culture centres that have appeared recently in these parts, this one looks to the future, not the past”.
As noted above, the Canadian Ismaili community is often upheld as an example for immigrant integration and success: “In the last three decades they’ve built some of B.
C.’s biggest companies, raised stacks of cash for good causes and quietly joined the golf and country club set”, writes BC Business.
Your article reflects ignorance over the importance of Islamic culture and civilization - and in fact the project's goal is to address the very ignorance and lack of knowledge you display in your article!