Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

A majority of Canadians believe both antisemitism and Islamophobia are problems in the country, according to a new survey from the Angus Reid Institute. Published Wednesday, the survey also found notable differences of opinion between age and religious groups.

“Indeed, three-quarters see both as significantly problematic, while just 11 per cent of Canadians feel that each is ‘not really a problem,’” the survey explained. “However, there are varying perceptions of the severity of the problem both antisemitism and anti-Muslim attitudes pose.”

Tensions from the Israel-Hamas war have spilled over to communities around the world, including in Canada, where competing protests and reports of both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents are on the rise. Toronto police alone have seen an increase in hate crime occurrences since fighting broke out on Oct. 7, including 56 occurrences classified as antisemitic and 20 categorized as anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian.

In the survey, more than three quarters of Canadians recognized antisemitism (78 per cent) and Islamophobia (75 per cent) as “major” problems, or problems that are “one among many others.” Fewer than one in five Canadians saw the issues as minor (11 to 14 per cent) or not problems at all (11 per cent).

Canadians older than 54 were more likely to view antisemitism as a major problem (34 per cent) compared with anti-Muslim discrimination (20 per cent). The opposite was apparent for Canadians 18 to 34, who viewed Islamophobia as a significant problem (26 per cent) over anti-Jewish hatred (22 per cent).

Canadians who identified as Jewish were very likely to see antisemitism as a major problem (75 per cent). Of those who identified as Muslim, nearly half (48 per cent) perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as a serious issue. Half of Muslim respondents (49 per cent) identified antisemitism as a minor or non-existent issue while one in five Jewish respondents (19 per cent) classified Islamophobia as a minor or non-existent problem.

The findings were based on an online survey of 3,749 Canadian adults between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. The Angus Reid Institute is a national not-for-profit that conducts opinion polls and research on issues affecting Canadians.

The survey also found that Canadians are growing more critical of the impact of religion on society, with 26 per cent of respondents describing religion as negative force in the country in 2023, compared with 14 per cent in 2017. Over those six years, the number of Canadians who described religion as positive shrunk from 38 per cent in 2017, to 26 per cent in 2023.

“Those who identify as religious themselves are more likely to see the contributions of religious communities to be positive, though it varies,” the survey said. “Those in Quebec, a historically more secular province, are much more likely to view religious contributions to Canada as a net negative.”

The survey additionally noted changing attitudes towards Islam in Canada, when compared with seven other faith groups.

“Views of religions were fairly static… with one notable exception,” the survey stated. “Canadians are now more likely to say Islam is damaging to Canadian society than they were in 2022. Now, more than two-in-five (43%) believe Islam to be a harmful presence to Canada, a figure triple the number who believe the religion to be a positive contributor.”

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