Ominously, it looks like we’re entering a new phase of our journey to Islam.
For years, the Canadian Muslim community has been wondering, with increasing frustration, whether Muslims are getting enough credit for the role they played in shaping Canada’s identity.
The answer is no.
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Multiculturalism, the Muslim population in Canada has actually shrunk since 1996, from around 20,000 to less than 2,000 today.
While the census data hasn’t yet been released, the report shows that Canada has an overall Muslim population that is shrinking at an alarming rate.
So, where does that leave us?
Well, the most important question for all Canadians is: How do we move forward as a country if we’re going to be a diverse society in which everyone feels welcomed, safe and included?
The report recommends that Canadians should consider building bridges between different religions, and that there should be more public spaces for people to meet, pray and talk.
And, the authors say, the only way to move forward is for Canada to embrace its Muslim population and work to strengthen their ties with the broader community.
“Canada needs to be welcoming and inclusive of all its diverse communities,” said Alia Bekre, a Muslim Canadian and co-founder of the non-profit Islamic Centre of Ontario.
“This is our land.
We have a shared history, our shared culture and our shared history of persecution.”
The report comes at a time when the number of Muslim refugees in Canada is at an all-time high.
According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2017, just under 50,000 Muslims arrived in Canada, a 25 per cent increase from 2016.
The majority of them are Syrian refugees.
At the same time, the number has dropped for the vast majority of Canadians, as the number in Canada declines, particularly among younger generations.
In the last decade, the percentage of Canadians under 25 has dropped by almost one-third.
The authors of the report suggest that this trend is most evident among the youngest Canadians, and particularly young people of colour, who tend to be more likely to be Muslim.
“We are not seeing the number [of refugees] increase in this demographic,” said Bekrem.
“The only demographic group that has seen a dramatic increase in the past 10 years is young people, because of the rise in Muslim immigration.
It’s not just that they’re Muslim; they’re not just immigrants.
They’re immigrants who have arrived and have become part of Canadian society.
So they’re part of the fabric of Canadian life.”
It is difficult to tell exactly how many Muslim Canadians are in Canada at any given time, but the authors estimate that there are at least 10,000, or more, who have left their country.
That includes people who have recently left the country, and people who are refugees and have returned home.
“The number of people who were recently leaving their home country, whether they were refugees or people who had left their home, was a lot higher than the number who were leaving their country,” said Mohammad Ali Khan, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Immigration Studies.
“They’re people who may be living here, but are not here legally, and have had to leave.”
In 2016, more than 40 per cent of the people who left their native country in the United States and Canada were Muslim.
And while the number may have been a bit higher for those from Syria, Canada has seen an increase in other Muslim immigrants since then.
In 2017, more people from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa emigrated to Canada, with more than 5,000 of those people returning in the first half of 2018 alone.
Even with this large increase in Muslim immigrants, there has been a drop in the number and percentage of Muslim Canadians in Canada.
As of March of this year, less than 5 per cent.
There have been many factors behind this.
One of the most recent are concerns that the country is not as welcoming to newcomers as it should be.
“There are a lot of stories that I hear from my constituents and people in my community,” said Khan.
It’s a whole suite of factors, and I think it’s a lot more complex than a simple one-size-fits-all approach. “
And it’s not the only thing that’s going on.
It’s a whole suite of factors, and I think it’s a lot more complex than a simple one-size-fits-all approach.
Another major factor is that many Canadians are reluctant to talk about their faith.
There’s this fear that we’re not going to talk to you, we’re just not going have the conversation, and the fear that somehow you’re not talking to us.”
And of course, there’s the constant pressure of the media.