Canadians hold positive impression of Muslims: Survey

Calgary, Canada � A new survey suggests Canadians have a generally positive impression of Muslims, but that view doesn't apply to some of the religion's leadership and beliefs, 660 NEWS reported.

The poll, commissioned by Think for Actions and Insights Matter, found 78 percent of Canadians agree Muslims should maintain their religious and cultural practices and adopt Canadian customs and values.

Some 88 percent of those surveyed say Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian. But 72 percent of respondents also think there is an increasing climate of hatred and fear toward Muslims in Canada and it will get worse.

Results of the poll � an online survey of 1,048 Canadians done from 13 March to 12 August � were released on Saturday at The Unity Conference in Calgary on Islamophobia, discrimination and systemic racism.

"The biggest takeaway is Canadians, who are friends with a Muslim or know a Muslim individual, have a positive view of Islam and Muslims and are more welcoming to them," said Mukarram Zaidi, chair of the group that commissioned the survey.

"Fear is the greatest factor. The majority of Canadians believe the issue of racism has increased. They are concerned about the issue of general racism and hate crimes, religious discrimination, homophobia and anti-Semitism."

Public perception isn't all positive. The survey found 56 percent believed that Islam suppresses women's rights. There was a 54 percent approval for imams and 35 percent for Muslim leadership.

"There needs to be work done within the Muslim community and their leadership to understand that the common person does not hold a lot of respect for what they're doing," said Zaidi.

"Children born and raised in North America need to become imams because when they stand up and speak, they can speak English clearly and they can relate Islam to North American culture," he added.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, understands why Canadians would be suspicious of Muslim leadership. He said many imams discuss only religious teaching and morality when they should speak out against fanaticism, extremism and intolerance.

"Many Muslim leaders do not condemn ISIL, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda," said Soharwardy, adding: "A lot of imams are doing it, but not enough."

Source: International Islamic News Agency