04/30/2012 03:44 EDT | Updated 06/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada's "Muslim Problem" is Not the One Most Think it Is

My friend's five-year-old child came home from school the other day crying. His mother tried to calm him down but with no avail.

Her son found it hard to articulate himself at first and his mother went hysterical trying to figure out the cause of her son's grief.

She was stunned when she learned what the frustration was all about.

An assistant teacher had made hateful remarks about his faith when his winter coat had fallen to the ground and she went to help him put it back on. In front of all the other students she said to him that all the mayhem the world is facing today is because of Muslims: "You are nothing but problems."

Muslims are facing a tremendous amount of ignorance from society.

Because of the terror attacks in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, life for a Muslim has become quite challenging.

More than half of all Canadians believe Muslims can't be trusted and nearly as many believe discrimination against Muslims is "mainly their fault,'' according to the results of a new national survey released ahead of Wednesday's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Among French Canadians -- who regularly register stronger negative responses than English Canadians do toward Muslims -- 70 per cent of those surveyed expressed little or no trust in Muslims, compared with 43 per cent of English speakers who said they felt that way.

On the question of who deserves blame for such negative feelings, Muslims again fared significantly worse than other groups in Canadian society.

Forty-two per cent of respondents said they agreed (either "strongly'' or "somewhat'') with the statement: "If there is discrimination against Muslims, it is mainly their fault.''

The number of hate crimes reported to Canadian police rose 42 per cent in 2009 on top of a 35 per cent increase the previous year, according to Statistics Canada.

Fifty-four per cent were motivated by race or ethnicity, 29 per cent by religion, and 13 per cent by sexual orientation.

The largest increase was in hate crimes motivated by religion.

The bullying of Muslim has deteriorated to the point that a high school in Toronto was the subject of discussion in the media for allowing its Muslim students to conduct their weekly prayer at its cafeteria.

As Fathima Cader and Sumayya Kassamali in their article "Islamophobia in Canada: A Primer," stated:

In July 2011, the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), the Jewish Defence League (JDL), and Canadian Hindu Advocacy (CHA) picketed the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), because it had allowed Muslim students to pray at Valley Park Middle School. The news went from a fringe story about extremist racists 'fighting the Islamization' of the TDSB to front-page headlines when the media reported that the prayers were gender-segregated.

As the two authors have indicated, in 2010, Quebec proposed Bill 94, which would deny essential government services, public employment, education, and health care to Muslim women who wear niqab.

The harassment of Muslims in Europe is far worse than in North America even though things are deteriorating here as well. The Canadian government had stepped up its campaign against Islamic clothing, banning women from wearing the full face covering known as niqab when taking citizenship oath.

As the Taliban claim to know what is best for women and dictate to them what to wear, the government of Canada, which was supposed to protect the choice of women, is acting in the same manner by claiming to know what is best for them.

Even the Canadian Prime Minister has taken his shot at the besieged Muslims. In an interview with CBC on September 6, 2011, to commemorate the 911 anniversary, Stephen Harper said the biggest threat Canada is facing is what he called "Islamicism."

Leading human right organizations are sounding the alarms over the discrimination Muslims are facing in Europe.

Amnesty International has condemned European laws which encourage anti-Muslim prejudice, as reported in the Globe and Mail on April 25.

The report, titled "Choice and Prejudice," stated, "European laws on what girls and women wear on their heads are encouraging discrimination against Muslims and against a religion that has been part of Europe's fabric for centuries."

Many Europeans wrongly assume all Muslims are immigrants, even though Islam has been a leading religion in Europe for centuries, the report notes. That makes the discrimination especially painful for the millions of Muslims born in Europe who are told to "go home" -- when they have no other "home" to flee to.

It is interesting to see hate mongers telling Muslim Canadians to go home when as a matter of fact, the entire country has been built by immigrants.

The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens who adhere to the teachings of their faith which are based on peace and justice. That is why such teachings have appealed to the minds and hearts of intellectuals of our time and made the religion the fastest growing faith in the west.

Muslims are human beings like everyone else who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They include doctors whom you trust your life with, engineers, lawyers and other outstanding citizens.

There are indeed bad people who happen to be Muslims and commit atrocities, as is the case with every other community, religious or otherwise.