But it also poses a challenge for policy-makers, especially when it comes to younger Muslims, many of them second-generation.
Younger Muslims are more religiously observant than their elders. And they worry more about high levels of discrimination. Some 35 per cent of Muslims overall say they experienced unfair treatment over their religion or ethnicity, far higher than the general population. Younger Muslims expect things to get worse. And they feel a slightly weaker sense of belonging to the country. That raises a concern that some may become alienated and prey to extremist views.
While the wider Muslim community believes that very few in their faith support violent extremism, it also recognizes the need to confront that concern head on.
At root the survey confirmed that the vast majority of Muslims, or 83 per cent, feel “very proud” to be Canadian. That beats out the 73 per cent of non-Muslims who feel the same. Fully 94 per cent said their sense of belonging to Canada was strong. And 84 per cent feel their community is treated better here than in other western countries. These are powerful indicators of a community that has put down deep roots and doesn’t deserve to live under a cloud of suspicion or to be scapegoated for the crimes of others
At the same time, Muslims see no contradiction in being good Canadians and good Muslims. Not surprisingly, more than 80 per cent say that both their Canadian nationality and their faith figure strongly in their sense of personal identity. That said, 50 per cent say religion plays a bigger role than nationality. Then again, so do 28 per cent of other religious Canadians.
Given that Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are all growth religions, it’s no surprise that attendance at Muslim religious services is up, with 48 per cent now participating once a week or more. Similarly, 48 per cent of women now report wearing the hijab head scarf. The fuller body-covering chador and the face-covering niqab are each worn by 3 per cent.
Younger Muslims in particular are finding identity in their faith. Fully 61 per cent feel that being Muslim is key to their identity, and they are the most likely group to attend mosque. But it doesn’t follow that they are less attached to the nation and its values than are similarly devout Christians, Hindus, Jews and others.
Muslim Canadians are proud to call this country home: Editorial | Toronto Star