Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities

Thanks to the effect of social media, Islamophobia increased during COVID-19. Explanations for the motivation behind Islamophobia vary. Criminologist Balgit Nagra in Secret Citizens (2017) points to cultural factors and notes that "in the Canadian context, Muslim religious and cultural practices are often seen as too different to integrate with mainstream culture, meaning that they cannot be assimilated. In a broader context, Muslim communities are seen as patriarchal, barbaric, and uncivilized, while Western communities are seen as "egalitarian, liberal, and modern." Other studies reject the correlation between these negative perceptions and Islam as a culture or Muslims as a race. A prime example of this group is "The Muslim Question in Canada" (Abdi Kazemipur 2014), which concludes that the motivation must be found in the social, not the cultural, racial, theological, or teachings of Islam. The direction must shift toward social interactions, behaviours, and relationships between Muslims and the rest of Canada. A third group of experts emphasizes the phenomenon of social media and the effects of press contamination (over-exposure). Although there is no real connection between Islam and terrorism, anti-Muslim sentiment has spread in the post-9-11 era in the era of globalized information technology. Moreover, domestic politics in the Western world reinforce and use such cover-ups to achieve their own political goals (Macdonald 2020, pp. 83-90).

Islamophobia and religious discrimination tend to be troubling problems in Canada. However, polls show that attitudes toward religious discrimination are politically polarized. For example, about 50% of Liberal, NDP (New Democratic Party) and Green Party supporters consider religious discrimination against their Muslim fellow citizens a significant problem, while only 14% of Conservative supporters consider it a serious problem. Survey responses made this clear:

  • Canadians are the least comfortable with an authority figure who wears a hijab compared to any other type of religious dress. For example, Canadians are more than twice as uncomfortable with a prime minister who wears a hijab (44%) as they are with a prime minister who wears a cross (21%.) - and nearly 1.5 times as uncomfortable with a prime minister who wears a kippah (30%). Meanwhile, 54% of Canadians under the age of 35 are quite comfortable with a prime minister who wears a hijab, while only 34% of Canadians over 65 are comfortable with a prime minister who wears a hijab. And younger Canadians (e.g., ages 35 and under) are half as likely to be uncomfortable when a family member is engaged to a Muslim as the national average.
  • Canadians are more likely to harbour negative stereotypes about Muslim Canadians than about Christian or Jewish Canadians. For example, more Canadians view Muslims as noticeably less tolerant, less accommodating, less open-minded, more violent, and more abusive toward women than Christians or Jews.
  • Canadians are much less comfortable accepting a Muslim into their family compared to people of other religious faiths. While only 12% of respondents were uncomfortable with a family member being engaged to a Muslim of another faith, 31% of respondents were uncomfortable with a family member being engaged to a Muslim.
  • Canadians believe in protecting religious rights in general, but are less concerned about the religious rights of their Muslim cohabitants. For example, 82% of respondents place a high value on religious freedom in general, but only 68% of Canadians place a high value on protecting the right of Muslims to practice their religion.
  • Quite a large number of people (17%) perceive the Muslim Canadian community as a monolith with unified views. Only about half of Canadians recognize the diversity of views inherent in the Canadian Muslim community.

It would not be a big exaggeration to say that the image of Muslims is being formed in the country as Canada's "internal enemies" who threaten the stability of the nation. According to a 2017 Radio Canada poll, a majority of Canadians (74%) are in favor of a Canadian values test for Muslim immigrants, while 23% are in favor of a ban on immigration for Muslims, with support for a ban on immigration reaching this period in Quebec to 32%.

But at the same time, Canadians are acutely aware of this problem. When asked directly if Islamophobia exists in Canada, 81 per cent of respondents disagreed with the statement "There is no Islamophobia in Canada" and 60 per cent agreed that the government should take steps to combat Islamophobia in Canada.

Canadians also showed faith in the Canadian model of multiculturalism. For example, when asked how Canada should respond to the challenges of multiculturalism, the most popular recommendation (48 per cent of respondents) was simply to enforce existing laws more effectively to protect minorities from discrimination and hate crimes. The survey also showed that many political leaders avoided explicitly addressing Islamophobia. Thus, while some political leaders suggested that the definition of Islamophobia is unclear, 70% of Canadians overall and nearly 60% of Conservative supporters say they actually know clearly what it is. As mentioned above, 81% of those surveyed confirmed that they believe Islamophobia exists in Canada. Overall, 57% of those surveyed believe Islamophobia is an increasingly troubling problem in Canada, a figure that rises to about 70% when looking only at Liberal, NDP and Green supporters. However, Conservative party supporters and Quebecers in general clearly have very different views on Islamophobia compared to other segments of the population.

The results of a survey on Canadians' attitudes toward Jews and anti-Semitism are also interesting. Between June 5 and 10, 2020. "EKOS Research Associates, on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Independent Jewish Voices Canada and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel, conducted a national online survey of 1,009 Canadians. The findings show that an overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that most forms of criticism of Israel are not anti-Semitic. These include:

  • Accusing Israel of human rights violations against Palestinians (80% do not consider this to be anti-Semitic).
  • Allegations that Israel is illegally displacing Palestinians from their land. (79%).
  • Calling for a boycott of Israel because of alleged human rights violations (76%).
  • Establishment of campus groups critical of Israeli government policies (74%).
  • Suggestions that Israeli laws restricting the movement and residence of Palestinians are similar to South Africa's apartheid laws (69%).

This suggests that most Canadians do not agree with what Canadian politicians characterize as anti-Semitic activities, including, for example, BDS or Israeli Apartheid Week. As such, any initiatives to legally restrict criticism or protest against Israel or to enforce the IHRA's working definition of anti-Semitism in this regard would strongly contradict the views of ordinary Canadians. At the same time, most Canadians identified the following 4 manifestations as anti-Semitic:

  • Painting swastikas on the Israeli consulate (91% consider it anti-Semitic).
  • Claims that Jews control the world's media (73%).
  • Comparing modern Israeli politics to Nazi politics (61%).
  • Accusing Jewish Canadians of being more loyal to Israel than to Canada (58%).
  • That is, instead of seeing a connection between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitic views, we saw the opposite. Those respondents who were most likely to perceive criticism of Israel as legitimate were also the most sensitive to negative remarks about Jewish Canadians, including "Claiming that Jews control the world's media" and "Accusing Jewish-Canadians of being more loyal to Israel than to Canada." Conversely, those respondents most likely to say that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic are also most likely to say that statements critical of Jews of Canadian descent are not anti-Semitic. The study also found that a majority (59%) of Canadians consider prejudice against minority groups a serious problem, while a smaller number (35%) consider prejudice against Jews in Canada a serious problem. Notably, these numbers are similar to the results of the 2018 Canadian Jewish Public Opinion Survey. Although governments are focusing on legislation that specifically addresses anti-Semitism, average Canadians consider prejudice against minorities in general to be a bigger problem. These findings point to the need to combat anti-Semitism as part of a holistic, cross-sectoral approach to combating racism and prejudice in general, rather than anti-Semitism in a vacuum.

    Back to list

© 2017 Civic Nation
Created by – NBS-Media