MONTREAL – Of all Canadians, Quebecers are the ones most likely to admit they hold negative feelings about religious groups, especially Muslims, a recent survey conducted for the Association for Canadian Studies suggests.
A majority of Canadians expressed a positive view of each of the three major religious groups — Christians, Jews and Muslims — mentioned in the poll conducted by Leger Marketing.
However, nearly one-quarter of those surveyed said they held a negative view of Muslims, compared to only one in 10 who reported holding negative views of Christians and Jews, respectively.
Fewer than one in five Canadians surveyed said they have a “very positive” view of Muslims, compared to 30 per cent for Jews and 38 per cent for Christians.
Results of the poll, released Friday, were likely influenced by the recent arrest of 17 terror suspects in Toronto and last week’s explosion of violence in Israel and Lebanon, admits Jack Jedwab, executive director of the association.
“But how much is it a function of politics and how much of prejudice?” he asked in a telephone interview. International events and how they are portrayed in the media help form peoples’ attitudes, he added.
Sarah Elgazzar, spokesperson for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, agreed.
“When things are heated up literally everywhere you turn, and particularly when Canadian soldiers are dying, you’ll get these kind of views,” she said.