Calgary Muslims proud Canadians but still face discrimination: poll



SHAWN LOGAN More from Shawn Logan

Published on: May 10, 2016 | Last Updated: May 10, 2016 6:05 PM MDT

A man prays during the Eid ceremony, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Saturday July 18, 2015 at Baitun Nur Mosque mosque. Ted Rhodes/Postmedia

They�re proud Canadians, striving to adopt the culture and values of their new home, but more than half of Calgary�s Muslim community still face discrimination and, in some cases, violence and verbal abuse, says a new poll. The survey conducted by Calgary-based polling firm Insights Matter on behalf of Think for Actions, a local think-tank, and the Muslim Council of Calgary found even as the city�s 70,000-strong Muslim population strives to integrate in the community, they still face significant challenges. Think for Actions founder Dr. Mukarram Ali Zaidi said the poll, which saw 564 of Calgary�s Muslim community complete the survey, shows there�s a strong desire to be contributing members to their city and neighbourhoods, but many are still discriminated against and fear that those attitudes have only grown. �Muslims are taking part in politics, they�re voting, they�re contributing to charity and are part of their communities,� Zaidi said. �Unfortunately, many of the images people see in the media are responsible for Islamophobia.� The survey, launched late last year, found 97�per cent�of Calgary�s Muslims are both proud to be Canadian as well as being proud Muslims, while 85 per cent�of those polled said they strive to maintain their cultural practices while adopting Canadian customs and values. However, despite the efforts to fit in, a small majority still face discrimination in their adopted home. The poll found 51 per cent have personally experienced discrimination related to their race, ethnicity or religion in the past five years. Of those incidents, some 23 per cent were identified as either verbal abuse or physical attacks. Even more troubling, 76�per cent�of those surveyed believed that discrimination against Canadian Muslims has risen in the past five years. Zaidi said the primary reason many continue to struggle with racism is related to how the media portrays Muslims, with 60 per cent of those polled feeling news reports�paint a negative picture of their community. �Every time a Muslim commits a crime and they show an image of a Qur�an�or mosque, that image creates fear,� he said, adding one out of four surveyed also believes orders of government haven�t done enough to challenge Islamophobia. The survey will be at the centre of a conference at the University of Calgary on Saturday called Your Muslim Neighbour, which�is aiming to break down some of the lingering barriers faced by Muslims. Speakers at the event, which runs from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., include police Chief Roger Chaffin, Calgary MLA and Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir, and Zarqa Nawaz, creator of the Little Mosque on the Prairie television show. Some 200 people have already purchased tickets, but more are available at�thinkforactions.com/risc2016 Zaidi said the message he hopes will resonate with those who attend, as well as the broader community, is that Calgary�s Muslims are no different than any other neighbour on your street. �We are proud and we are here. And we�re here for the foreseeable future,� he�said. �The message we send is, �We are here. Come talk to us.� � slogan@postmedia.com On Twitter: @ShawnLogan403