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

Canadian politician defends speaking engagement at Islamic convention

News Agencies – December 12, 2012

 

Canadian politician Justin Trudeau is brushing off criticism about his upcoming keynote speech at an Islamic convention, saying he’s proud to be participating in the event. His planned Dec. 22 appearance at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto has been attacked by an anti-Islamism website and those complaints have been picked up by some mainstream media outlets. The critics have raised concerns about radical views and the alleged affiliation of other speakers at the event later this month; they have also pointed to alleged ties between major conference sponsors and the Islamic militant group Hamas.

When asked about the controversy, Trudeau said he doesn’t share the critics’ concerns and he accuses them of trafficking in misinformation. He said politicians from all parties have spoken at the annual Toronto event — including former New Democrat leader Jack Layton a few years ago. The convention had 30,000 attendees in 2011 and at least 20,000 are expected this year. The working title of Trudeau’s speech is: “Being Inclusive in Canada: Our Story, Our Politics, Our Future.” The event, founded by young Canadian Muslims a decade ago, aims to promote a forum for people to hear different viewpoints related to Islam.

 

Canada Muslims Fight Violence Against Women

On Islam – November 28, 2012

 

In a new effort to fight domestic violence in their country, Canadian Muslims are championing a new campaign to end violence against women.

The campaign, Muslims for White Ribbon Campaign, aims to end violence against women in the country. It is being launched with the unveiling of the campaign website (www.MuslimsforWhiteRibbon.com) and with imams and Muslim leaders committing to joinwith others to work to end violence against women.

 

The campaign runs from November 25, which marks the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and culminates in White Ribbon Days at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Center on December 21-23. It also aims to promote healthy relationships through education and create partnerships among mosques, women’s organizations, and social agencies to create a future without violence against women.

This is not the first time Canadian Muslims join campaigns to fight domestic violence in the country. In January, Canadian Muslims joined the White Ribbon Campaign to fight domestic violence in their nation.

Montreal Muslims respond to Anti-Islam film

CTV News – September 16, 2012

 

As turmoil spreads across the Middle East, Ottawa closed embassies in Libya, Egypt and Sudan for the day, citing growing protests over an anti-Islam film. The move came after four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed in an attack last week. In Montreal, leaders in the Muslim community are condemning the violent reaction to the film. They say the content may be offensive, but it doesn’t justify bloodshed.

During a special inter-faith meal on Sunday, those leaders said it was important to speak out to try and balance negative images of Islam with positive ones. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations also issued a statement this week, calling on Canadian Muslims to ignore the film.

 

“We regard a lot of things as sacred and we do not like it to be dragged down in the mud if you will,” said Farida Mohamed, from the Muslim Community of Quebec. “The trouble is these few inflammatory elements cause havoc for the Muslim world because, let’s face it, in the media Muslims are portrayed very negatively. Muslims are portrayed as terrorists.” The mosque’s president, Mehmet Deger, called for peaceful demonstrations and dialogue. The imam at the Dorval mosque said that he’s grateful that Canadian Muslims seem to be better off than Muslims in America, although tensions do flare from time to time.

Smartphone applications connect Canadian Muslims with Islam

CBC News – July 31, 2012

 

More and more Canadian young people receive reminders of the five daily prayers on their smartphones. Many use iPray — an iPhone app — that is among a host of smartphone offerings that aid Muslims in the observance of Islamic rituals. “We can be connected and are able to look up something, such as text from the Quran, at a moment’s notice, and anywhere,” says Ahtisham, the co-chair of the youth committee at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and a recent McMaster University graduate.

Fahad Gilani, operations manager and lead developer at Guided Ways Technologies, says downloads of Islamic apps during Ramadan rises upward 10 times the ordinary rate. Though, the smartphone apps are not solely to mark Ramadan. For believers, there are Islamic apps that help its users learn accurate Arabic pronunciations of a daily prayer, locate the nearest restaurant offering Halal foods or pinpoint qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when engaged in prayer — all on a smartphone.

Similarly, smartphone apps exist to enable believers of every religious stripe to read holy book verses, receive prayer reminders or locate the precise direction of prayer. Gilani says their suite of smartphone apps is available in at least 14 languages, including English, Urdu and Farsi. Yet for all his enthusiasm, Gilani acknowledges limiting factors still exist. He recalls the early years of the app development and worry over preserving the sanctity of Islam.

Canadian Muslims urged to boost security with beginning of Ramadan

News Agencies – July 30, 2011

A week after a massacre in Norway fuelled by anti-Islamic sentiment claimed the lives of 77 people, Muslims preparing for Ramadan across Canada are being urged to install surveillance cameras and bars on mosque windows, and to talk to police and school principals about emergency plans should an “incident” arise. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Ottawa, is calling for these and other measures as part of its “Muslim Community Safety Kit” sent out to Muslim associations across the country this week.

There have been reports of mosques being vandalized and other incidents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Waterloo – some following the 9/11 attacks, others after the uproar over a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and more recently around the well-publicized burning of a Quran in Florida. According to a Statistics Canada report released in June, the number of hate crimes increased by 42 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which statistics are available.

Mosques here have been taking safety precautions for years, said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. But along with locking doors and trimming shrubs around buildings to stop culprits from hiding out in them, Montreal mosques have also been opening their doors to the non-Muslims.

Young Canadian Muslim women describe how they are stereotyped

The Globe and Mail – July 3, 2011
This Globe and Mail article describes the experiences of young Canadian Muslims in the Greater Toronto Area and how they are often negatively seen in Canadian public space. High-profile stories, including the Toronto 18 terrorism bust, the murder of Mississauga teenager Aqsa Parvez by her father and brother, and tales of radical youth travelling overseas on jihadist missions, have left many non-Muslims with a skewed understanding of the religion – a faith whose diversity, especially within Canada, is immense, with differences across sect, ethnocultural or national origin, and levels of adherence. The article follows young people who stress that adhering closely to the Qur’anic tenets of the faith does not automatically lead to extremism.

Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference takes place in Toronto

Muslims from around the world gathered from December 23-26th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to attend an annual conference. More than 17,000 Canadian Muslims will gather at the ninth annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention, a meeting that offers Muslims a renewal of their faith just before the new year through sharing meals, group prayers and listening to lectures from prominent speakers.

The conference, created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, also offers young Muslims a discussion about Islam and applying its practice in a North American context, event spokesperson Ayman Faris said. The event works on “keeping the threat of extremism and radicalism at bay” as young generations of Muslims grow up in North America and, at times, turn to Internet, which can be a “dangerous” place to retrieve information about their faith, Heer said. She has seen the event grow from 6,000 to last year’s 17,000 attendees. Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, and Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian convert from Kitchener, Ont., who was also the past president of the Islamic Society of North America, are among the speakers at the 2010 conference.

Canadian Muslims Erect First Minaret in the Arctic

News Agencies – October 27, 2010

Canadian Muslims have erected the Arctic’s first minaret, atop a little yellow mosque which serves as spiritual home to the area’s fledgling Islamic community. The prefabricated mosque arrived in Inuvik in September to serve a growing Muslim population in Canada’s far north, after traveling 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water. The minaret — built locally and installed this week — has four levels and stands 30 feet (10 meters) off the ground.
The number of Muslims in Inuvik, a town of 4,000 inhabitants in Canada’s Northwest Territories, has grown steadily in recent years to about 80 and they no longer fit in an old three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-foot) caravan used until now for prayers. The worshippers — largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada’s far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities — are to hold an open house on November 5.