Canadian Anti-Hate Network
A new study from the Angus Reid Institute finds that unfavourable views of Islam permeate the country, with the most intense sentiment coming from Quebec.
Looking at the views of Islam across provincial lines, the study also compared the response to other belief systems including Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Overall, the rest of Canada was found to hold a 39 per cent unfavourable view of Islam, while within La belle province that number reaches 52 per cent.
Across the country, Canadians are least likely to hold positive views of Islam when compared to the five other major religions.
“The largest segment of the population in Quebec (30 per cent) displays Very Negative views toward Islam,” a release from Angus Reid states. “The level is about twice that observed in the rest of the country (16 per cent).”
Quebec’s ‘Very Negative’ segment also shows, the report notes, a “distinct level of negativity” towards Judaism and Christianity not seen elsewhere in the country.
While the results are troubling, it is important to note that in Quebec positive views are “more muted” but still made up “almost half the attitudinal landscape with one-in-five (20 per cent) displaying Very Positive views and a further one-quarter (25 per cent) on the generally positive side.”
Saskatchewan follows Quebec, with a 22 per cent Very Negative rating of Islam.
The report notes that Albertans, Ontarians, and Atlantic Canadians are most likely to view Islam in a Very Positive light.
Source: Angus Reid
However, Angus Reid did find “stark differences” when comparing the rest of Canada’s feelings about Islam to Quebec.
“Outside of Quebec, Very Positive and universally accepting views of Muslims and their religious symbols are evident in 37 per cent of the population. A further one-quarter (27 per cent) hold generally positive views but not in all circumstances assessed in the study. On the other end of the spectrum 16 per cent of Canadians outside Quebec hold Very Negative views on Islam and religious practices of this faith in nearly every circumstance assessed in the survey.”
Other results from the survey found that Quebec’s Bill 21, a ban on religious symbols for those working in some areas of public service, continues to be supported by more than half in that province (57 per cent). From the providence outside Quebec, 25 per cent support the concept for their own province with 65 per cent of the country voicing opposition. The bill applies to a number of practices among different faiths, but critics say the Islamic community is overly impacted by the “Act respecting the laicity of the State.”
Other research indicates that Muslim women are the most negatively impacted by the act.
When it comes to the wearing of the Hijab in public spaces, outside of Quebec there is 72 per cent support, while 28 per cent oppose it. In Quebec, 55 per cent are supportive, while 45 per cent voice opposition.
On the question of Islamophobia itself, Canadians are divided, with 50 per cent saying Canada does have an Islamophobia problem and 50 per cent saying it does not.
“Those most likely to view Islam negatively, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada alike, are also most likely to say there is no problem,” the report notes.
Age may be a factor when assessing views on Islam. The report notes “some correlation” between age and education on views on Islam as older Canadians are more likely to be in the Very Negative group than younger ones while younger Canadians are more likely to be in the Very Positive group.
A similar pattern was observed relating to education, as half of the Very Negative group has a high school diploma or less, while the Very Positive group is much more likely to have graduated from university.
Relating to recent controversies over the appointment of a special representative on combatting Islamophobia Angus Reid found that more than 44 per cent of Canadians believe this position is unnecessary.
The announcement of Amira Elghawaby as the first special representative to fill the role faced no small amount of backlash, particularly from Quebec, for a previous op-ed she co-wrote criticizing Quebec and the "anti-muslim sentiment" pervading the adoption of Bill 21.
Amira Elghawaby is a former founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
None of the provinces surveyed returned a majority who believe the creation of the position is necessary. A total of 35 per cent of Canadians support the creation of the position, while 44 percent oppose it. A further 21 per cent said they were unsure.
Angus Reid collected the data from February 8 to 10, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,623 Canadian adults. An oversample of Quebecers was also taken to examine those responses in detail from 807 Quebec residents.