Globe and Mail article chronicles “Sisters’ Prom Night” for Muslim Canadians

There was dancing, but no boys – in mixed company, young Muslim women cannot dance or wear revealing clothing. No one was sneaking in alcohol – drinking is strictly forbidden by Islam. And there was no prom Queen: Instead, every graduate wore a tiara. The “Sister’s Prom” has become an annual event among Toronto’s Muslim community, and is also a symbol of the balance that defines the lives of modern young women born and raised in Canada, faithful to Islam. They have ambitions to be doctors, engineers and community leaders, while embracing the rules placed upon them by their religion – no dating, for instance.

Theologian claims most Canadians are unable to name the five pillars of Islam

The era of multiculturalism in Canada has made many people more familiar with the festive traditions of other groups, and given common currency to new words such as Ramadan, Kwanza and Diwali. But knowledge of those religions rarely goes much beyond the surface, according to John Stackhouse, professor of theology at Vancouver’s Regent College.

“If you were to ask the average Canadian the five pillars of Islam, you wouldn’t get a very impressive answer. If you were to ask the two main divisions within Islam, you’d be lucky to get Sunni and Shia,” Prof. Stackhouse said. Religion is not taught in most Canadian public schools, so it’s difficult for Canadians to acquire much knowledge of the subject, he said.

Anti-Muslim sentiments on rise in Europe, two out of five Canadians also feel that way

Negative sentiments against Muslims and Jews are on the rise in “old Europe” more than anywhere else around the world today, a survey released in September by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project has shown. In contrast, negative attitudes towards Christians in Europe are “less common than negative ratings of Muslims or Jews,” the Pew survey said. Nonetheless, it noted that negative attitudes towards Christians are on the rise in a few countries, particularly in Turkey – to 72 per cent from 52 per cent in 2004. Meanwhile, a recent Leger Marketing poll has shown that nearly two out of five Canadians hold anti-Muslim sentiments. The Leger survey, commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, shows that “more needs to be done to combat discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiment,” according to the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN). Anti-Jewish sentiment also increased slightly, with the number of Canadians offering favourable views of Jews dropping to 73 per cent this year from 78 per cent. The poll, conducted among 1,500 respondents across the country, showed an increase in the number of Canadians with an unfavourable view of Muslims – to 36 per cent this year from 27 per cent. (Respondents were asked whether they had a favourable or unfavourable view of Muslims). Marites N. Sison reports.

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Anti-Muslim sentiments on rise in Europe, two out of five Canadians also feel that way

Negative sentiments against Muslims and Jews are on the rise in old Europe more than anywhere else around the world today, a survey released in September by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project has shown. In contrast, negative attitudes towards Christians in Europe are less common than negative ratings of Muslims or Jews, the Pew survey said. Nonetheless, it noted that negative attitudes towards Christians are on the rise in a few countries, particularly in Turkey – to 72 per cent from 52 per cent in 2004. Meanwhile, a recent Leger Marketing poll has shown that nearly two out of five Canadians hold anti-Muslim sentiments. The Leger survey, commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, shows that more needs to be done to combat discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiment, according to the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN). Anti-Jewish sentiment also increased slightly, with the number of Canadians offering favourable views of Jews dropping to 73 per cent this year from 78 per cent. The poll, conducted among 1,500 respondents across the country, showed an increase in the number of Canadians with an unfavourable view of Muslims – to 36 per cent this year from 27 per cent. (Respondents were asked whether they had a favourable or unfavourable view of Muslims). Marites N. Sison reports.