Canada town votes against having a Muslim cemetery

The Canadian town of Saint-Apollinaire; has voted to oppose a zoning change that would allow a Muslim cemetery to be built.  The town’s decision to block the cemetery has led to an outcry amongst Muslims and civil-rights advocates across the country.

“We never thought people could oppose the installation of a cemetery,” the centre’s president Mohamed Labidi told Radio-Canada. “What are they afraid of?”  He went on say that this referendum may lead to human rights violation.

The cemetery was proposed by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, which was the site of a shooting that killed six people and injured 19 in January.

The mayor of the town supported the cemetery and has said he fears his town’s reputation has been hurt.

Student known for far-right sympathies charged in Quebec City mosque attack

Canadian authorities on Monday charged, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old university student known for his far-right sympathies with six counts of first-degree murder in a mass shooting the day before at a local mosque.

Described by neighbors and acquaintances as a socially awkward introvert who had recently adopted virulent political views, was also charged late Monday afternoon with five counts of attempted murder with a restricted firearm. The attack, which took place just as about 50 worshipers at the small mosque in the suburb of Sainte-Foy near Laval University had completed evening prayer, sent shock waves through Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was clear that his government considered the shooting a terrorist act. “This was a group of innocents targeted for practicing their faith,” Trudeau told the House of Commons. “Make no mistake. This was a terrorist attack.”

After mosque attack in Canada, critics point to anti-immigrant ‘trash radio’

The mayor of Quebec, Régis Labeaume along with Primier Philippe Couillard acknowledged that xenophobia and hate was being spread by what they call  “radio poubelle,” or “trash radio.” Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation of being Canada’s ­capital of shock jocks, online ­radio hosts who love to provoke with outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims.

Labeaume, appeared to criticize the radio stations. Speaking at an outdoor vigil in memory of the victims Monday evening, he denounced those who “get rich from peddling hatred.”  While Couillard acknowledged Tuesday that the province has “its demons” and that “xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here.” But he told reporters that Quebec society is generally open and tolerant.

There is no indication that the man charged in the attack, Alexandre Bissonnette, was particularly influenced by trash radio, but members of the Muslim community were quick to complain about the corrosive impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard on the city’s airwaves.

Canadians form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques after Quebec shooting

Hundreds across Canada gathered around mosques to form protective barriers – described by organisers as “human shields” and “rings of peace” – as Muslims in the country marked their first Friday prayers since a gunman shot dead six men who were praying at a Quebec mosque.

“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Yael Splansky, the rabbi behind the effort to set up “rings of peace” around Toronto mosque told the Canadian Press.  “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace, and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.”

But reports emerged of a mosque that had been vandalised just miles from where the funeral was taking place. A window at the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre had been smashed and the front door splattered with eggs, in an act described as “terrorism” by one city councillor.

Quebec Mosque Attack Forces Canadians to Confront a Strain of Intolerance

QUEBEC — In a world often hostile to migration, Canada has stood out, welcoming thousands of refugees fleeing war and seeking a haven. It has been a feel-good time for Canada, proud of its national tolerance.

On Sunday, that was upended when a man walked into a mosque and started shooting, killing six people and wounding eight. The man accused of being the gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, was charged with six counts of murder on Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an act of terrorism, and there was a collective outpouring of remorse and empathy. But the attack also forced Canadians to confront a growing intolerance and extremism that has taken root particularly among some people in this French-speaking corner of the country.

“Certainly Islamophobia has been increasing for some time,” Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said by telephone from Montreal.

But he said the attack was nonetheless shocking. “It is overwhelming, unthinkable,” he said.

The Bigotry That Armed the Quebec Mosque Attacker

TORONTO — On Sunday night, a gunman opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and wounding eight. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, called the shootings a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Worshipers gunned down in a mosque — people here more readily associate such news with the United States than with Canada. That this happened in Quebec City has shocked many of us, myself included.

In Quebec, Islamophobia manifested itself in a series of sensational cases, in 2007 and 2008, over the “reasonable accommodation” of religious minorities, Muslims in particular. The provincial soccer federation barred hijab-wearing girls on the pretext of safety. It took an official commission to calm public nerves. Its 2008 report, which had the eminent philosopher Charles Taylor as an author, found there was no crisis: Sensationalist media coverage had distorted perceptions, but Muslims were not making unreasonable demands.

I remain an incurably optimistic Canadian, and I want to believe that Canada is still not the United States. But as Sunday’s attack showed, we face the challenge of undoing the damage of years of suspicion and bigotry.

Muslim community joins Regina pride parade for 1st time

Regina held its annual Queen City Pride parade on Saturday, as the main event for pride week.
This year was special for some Muslim people in Regina, as it’s the first time a group from the religious community marched in the parade.
Sabreena Haque, a Muslim woman who took part, said many who joined the parade felt it was time to show more visible solidarity, especially in the wake of the tragic shooting in Orlando at a gay bar earlier this month.
“We are a misunderstood community ourselves, and I think you know when things like Orlando happen and things that happen in other places, I think other people always see us as being this harsh group of people. That we have only one way of thinking,” Haque said.
Haque said people were happy to see group marching, and said they’re thankful for the opportunity to take part.

Survey shows Muslim population is fastest growing religion in Canada

May 8, 2013

By Jordan Press

 

OTTAWA — The Islamic centre in Saskatoon is experiencing growing pains. Friday services have been split in two so local streets aren’t clogged with traffic. City officials and nearby residents are working with the centre to answer questions like where to put more parking?

“We have been experiencing this kind of steady increase for a while,” said Amin Elshorbagy, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

“We can see this in terms of the need to expand our infrastructure. Most of our Islamic centres are becoming very crowded.”

Across the country, the Muslim population is growing at a rate exceeding other religions, according to Statistics Canada. It is even growing faster than the number of Canadians identifying as having no religion, though just barely, according to the National Household Survey released Wednesday.

The Muslim population exceeded the one million mark, according to the survey, almost doubling its population for the third-consecutive decade.

However, the survey results should be taken with caution. Experts say the voluntary nature of the survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, leaves gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to such surveys, such as new immigrants.

Experts believe the data provide a fairly good, broad picture of Canada, but data on smaller groups may have less reliable information.

As mosques become more commonplace and more women wear the niqab, there are growing debates about religious accommodations.

“We need to sit down as Muslims, not as a community because there isn’t one community, and decide what we want to be accommodated and what we want to give up,” said Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

That internal debate in the Muslim community sometimes gets sidetracked, largely because of the backdrop of violence done in the name of religion, which Canadian Muslims regularly condemn.

“It is an additional pressure and a big one on the Muslim community,” Elshorbagy said.

“We need to be extra nice just because we’re Muslims. We need to go beyond certain limits, which is very unfortunate for people like me,” he said. “Sometimes the media will call something Islamic terrorism — once you call it Islamic, you’ve brought me into the picture even though I haven’t done something wrong.”

And with their numbers now reportedly over the one million mark, the pressures are likely to mount.

“Polling has shown that Canadian Muslims are proud to be Canadian, more so than the average Canadian,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Canadian Muslims very much want to integrate and be part and parcel of the society.”

One-on-one, non-Muslims may have favourable views of their Islamic colleagues, but that feeling doesn’t always extend to the wider Muslim population, said Pamela Dickey Young, a professor of religion and culture at Queen’s University.

“It isn’t like Canadian Muslims have not tried to educate the Canadian populace…but for some reason there’s still that edge with it that some Canadians have problems getting over,” Dickey Young said.

Muslims now represent 3.2 per cent of the country’s total population, nudging up from the two per cent recorded in 2001.

Immigration has largely fuelled the increase, with the largest share coming from Pakistan over the past five years, according to Statistics Canada.

But the survey provides no breakdown of type of Muslims living in Canada, as the survey didn’t ask respondents, for instance, whether they were Shiite or Sunni.

“People keep blocking us into one cohesive mass and we’re not that at all,” Hogben said.

 

National Post: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/08/survey-shows-muslim-population-is-fastest-growing-religion-in-canada/

 

Canadian Muslims encounter increasing hostility: Siddiqui

October 13, 2013

By Haroon Siddiqui

 

Jews have historically been falsely accused of wielding too much power. Now Canadian Muslims are, especially in Quebec.

A national poll has taken a measure of bigots who exaggerate the power of those they dislike. Nearly a third of Canadians believe Muslims have too much influence in their province. In Quebec, 43 per cent think so. This is ironic, given that Canadian Muslims report feeling under siege and helpless to stop the demonization directed at them because of Muslim mayhem elsewhere in the world.

A second poll corroborates the increasing hostility toward Muslims — again, more so in Quebec.

The findings come amid an ugly debate in Quebec over its plan to ban religious symbols and clothing, especially the hijab, for those on the public payroll. And there are increasing incidents of hijabi women being harassed — not just in Quebec but in Ontario and elsewhere.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, as it is in the U.S. and Europe. The 2011 national census estimated the Canadian Muslim population at 1,053 million, up 73 per cent since 2001. In Quebec, it is 243,500.

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival that marks the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, a gathering of about three million, including an estimated 1,500 from Canada.

Forum Research Inc. asked a representative sample of 1,527 Canadians about theirperception of the power of minorities.

Thirty per cent say Muslims have too much power. Twenty-one per cent think that about the Sikhs. And 18 per cent each say that about Jews and “Asians” (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.)

In Quebec, suspicion of Muslims and Jews is much higher. While 43 per cent think that Muslims are too powerful, 32 per cent think that of Jews. Tellingly, more separatists think that way than others. “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia common among Indépendendistes,” reads the headline on the Forum findings.

“If the Charter of Quebec Values is an example of the Parti Québécois practising dog whistle politics, it appears there are plenty of ears tuned to that particular frequency,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum.

I presented him with an argument: The poll merely quantifies the bigotry that’s always present in society; that he asked leading questions (“Do Muslims have too much influence in your province?”); and that respondents mouth off against whatever group is in the news negatively.

Bozinoff had a crisp answer: “Respondents had a right to say no but a great many didn’t. It was an IVR (interactive voice response) poll — people were pressing 1 and 2 on their phones in response to questions. There was no human being influencing them.

“The results are shocking but informative.”

An Angus Reid poll asked a sample of 2,025 Canadians — divided into Quebec and the rest of Canada — their views about different faiths.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t like Islam. In the rest of Canada, 54 per cent don’t.

Next on Quebecers’ hit list is Sikhism, disliked by 43 per cent, followed by Judaism, disliked by 41 per cent.

In the rest of Canada, 39 per cent view Sikhism negatively, 29 per cent Hinduism and 22 per cent Judaism.

Who holds the most negative views? Both polls point to the old, the less educated and the less wealthy.

Forum also shows that across Canada, Conservative supporters are more likely, 36 per cent, than supporters of other parties to presume that Muslims are too powerful. In Quebec, 47 per cent of PQ and 53 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters think so.

Angus Reid shows that younger and university-educated Canadians hold more favourable opinions of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

We may shrug off all this as a passing phenomenon.

After all, similar views have been held in the past against Catholics, Japanese, blacks and, especially, Jews. Over time, prejudices shift toward newer minorities, including by those who had once been victims of just such prejudice.

Or it may be that more people these days are willing to admit their biases and do so with a stridency we used to think of as un-Canadian.

Still, Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid says that leaving aside Quebec, the results do suggest that the rest of Canada, while more open-minded than Quebec, “may be operating under a veneer of acceptance rather than actual acceptance” of religious minorities.

For sure, Canada is not immune from post-9/11 fear of Muslims. We see that in the crude public discourse, especially in right-wing media and among some politicians, especially in Quebec, who feed at the Islamophobic trough.

 

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/13/canadian_muslims_encounter_increasing_hostility_siddiqui.html