One of Canada’s most defining trademarks is its encouragement and acceptance of diversity. As a nation, Canada welcomes those from other countries who see this land as a place in which opportunities await. That said, a new survey suggests that Canadians still have mixed perceptions of Muslims.
In a poll commissioned by Think for Actions and Insights Matter, 78% of Canadians agreed with the notion that Muslims should continue with their religious and cultural practices, but also adopt Canadian customs.
However, this poll – which was conducted from March 13 to August 12, 2017, and featured 1,048 participants – revealed 88% of respondents were of the belief that Muslims shouldn’t be treated differently than other Canadians.
“The biggest takeaway is Canadians who are friends with a Muslim or know a Muslim individual have a positive view of Islam and Muslims and are more welcoming to them,” commented Dr. Mukarram Ali Zaidi, Chairperson of Think for Actions.
Sadly, 72% of those polled acknowledged more and more Canadians have become increasingly fearful and hateful of Muslims. They also believe that such feelings will only get worse in time.
“Fear is the greatest factor,” added Dr. Zaidi. “The majority of Canadians believe the issue of racism has increased. They are concerned about the issue of general racism and hate crimes, religious discrimination, homophobia and anti-Semitism.”
Another concern is how Canadians view Muslim community leadership. Only 54% of surveyed Canadians approve of imams (i.e. the worship leader of a mosque), while just 35% accept Muslim leadership as a whole.
“There needs to be work done within the Muslim community and their leadership to understand that the common person does not hold a lot of respect for what they’re doing,” said Dr. Zaidi.
He continued: “Children born and raised in North America need to become an imam, because when they stand up and speak, they can speak English clearly and they can relate Islam to North American culture.”
On a recent episode of theZoomer, a diverse panel of community leaders gathered to reflect on Canada in the year of its sesquicentennial. You can watch this episode below.