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Rising Muslim Population Worries Canadians

Published: 07/05/2013 12:18:13 PM GMT
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OTTAWA — Providing an insight into the Canadian society, this week's National Household Survey is expected to focus on the country's rapidly increasing Muslim population as well as a growing dominance of atheism in the countr (more)

OTTAWA — Providing an insight into the Canadian society, this week's National Household Survey is expected to focus on the country's rapidly increasing Muslim population as well as a growing dominance of atheism in the country with more Canadians claiming no religion.

“There seems to be growing concern about the growth of Islam, arising from high-profile incidents in the news,” Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, told Postmedia News agency on Tuesday, May 7.

“That may lend itself to more debate about immigration and multiculturalism - which would be the wrong conclusion to draw, to my point of view.”

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The voluntary survey, which took the place of the long-form census in 2011, will provide the first comprehensive look at religion in this country in 10 years.

The survey, whose first results will be released Wednesday by Statistics Canada, is expected to focus on concerns about the rising number of Muslims in the country, soaring by more than 62 per cent in the next 18 years.

The results are expected to be close to recent results of a 1,500-person survey conducted last March by Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies

The March results showed that fewer than half of respondents - 46 per cent - held a positive opinion of Muslims.

By contrast, 70 per cent held favorable views of Catholics, 74 per cent for Protestants, 69 per cent for Jews and 61 per cent for atheists.

Nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) said they trusted Muslims “very little” or “not at all.”

The National Household Survey, NHS, was conducted prior to the recent terror plot against Via Rail and the Boston Marathon bombing, which were vehemently denounced by the Muslim community as crimes against Islam, not actions taken in the name of it.

Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.

A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.


Looking on religious affiliation across the country, the survey is expected to reflect an increasing proportion of people with no religious affiliation.

“I expect an increase in the number of people who say (they have) no religion,” said Jedwab.

“I also expect to see increases in people who identify with religions other than Christian … The net result would be a decrease in the number of people who identify as Catholic or Protestant.”

Prior to 1971, less than one per cent of Canadians claimed no religion; by the 2001 census, it had spiked to 16.5 per cent.

Other experts, however, expect a growth in Hispanic Catholicism; growth in Chinese immigrants who identify as Christian; and a significant rise in the Muslim population, particularly in the Western provinces and in Toronto.

“Religion is regarded, generally, by the Canadian establishment as a private concern that has nothing to do with society,” said Irving Hexham, professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary.

“But people are maintaining their roots much longer and deeper than in the past, and those roots often involve violent conflict. We need to know about that: where things are likely to occur, or unlikely to occur, and how people are assimilating.”

Last August, a new global survey found that religiosity was in decline around the world, with more people declaring themselves as atheists.

The survey, by the WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters, found a steep drop in religiosity around the world.

It found that average religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a decline of 9 points since 2005.

The poll also found that the number of people declaring themselves to be convinced atheists rose from 4 percent worldwide in 2005 to 7 percent this year.

North America reported 57 percent religiosity, Western Europe 51 percent and Eastern Europe 66 percent.

Reproduced with permission from