Canadians are least likely among citizens of 23 Western countries to be bigoted toward Muslims, according to a new international study that measured “Islamophobia” in each nation.

More than 32,000 respondents from 19 European countries, plus Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, were asked the question: “Would you like to have a person from this group as your neighbour?”

Of the nearly 2,000 people surveyed in Canada – which recently drew international attention for the CBC’s prejudice-piercing comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie – only 6.5 per cent said they would not like to live beside a Muslim. Respondents in Greece (20.9 per cent), Belgium (19.8), Norway (19.3) and Finland (18.9) were most likely to answer “No” to the question.

Results in Britain and the United States were 14.1 per cent and 10.9 per cent respectively, and negative responses across all western countries averaged 14.5 per cent.

Despite the West’s “reputation for liberalism, there can be little doubt that, in the past decade or so in western countries, there is an increasing awareness of, and a hardening of attitudes toward, people who are ‘different,’ ” argue the study’s co-authors, economists Vani Borooah of the University of Ulster and John Mangan of the University of Queensland in Australia.

Love Thy Neighbour: How Much Bigotry Is There in Western Countries? is to be published in Kyklos, the International Review for Social Sciences.

Salma Siddiqui, an official with the Toronto-based Muslim Canadian Congress, said yesterday the survey results reflect the fact Canada is a very tolerant nation. “We are lucky to be living in a country that recognizes all human rights,” she said.


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