Canadians view Hinduism positively, not Islam and Sikhism

Toronto, Canada - Canada may claim itself to be the most multicultural country in the world, but Canadians still harbour prejudices and racial stereotypes, says a survey by the nation's premier magazine.

According to the survey by Maclean's weekly, almost half of Canadians believe that Islam promotes violence. More than a quarter of them also view Sikhism as encouraging violence.

On the other hand, Hinduism is the most positively viewed religion after Christianity in Canada, according to the survey.

When the respondents were asked whether they thought that "the mainstream beliefs" of the major religions "encourage violence or are mostly peaceful," only 10% said Christianity taught violence.

On the other hand, 45% said Islam stood for violence and hatred. Nearly 26% viewed Sikhism as promoting violence.

While 70% said they hold a positive view of Christianity, 41% said they viewed Hinduism positively.

Showing how deep anti-Semitism is still in this liberal country, 44% respondents said they would not want their children to marry a person of Jewish faith.

Even fewer said they would be comfortable with their children marrying a Sikh or a Muslim.

Worse still, 62% Canadians said opposed changes to laws to accommodate new ethnic immigrant groups and minorities.

In the French-dominant province of Quebec, this figure rose to 74%.

As part of the survey, 1,002 Canadians from all walks of life were selected randomly to elicit their views on various religions.

The magazine said Canadians like to think of their country as a model of multi-ethnic and multicultural harmony, but when it comes to the major faiths other than Christianity they harbour shocking biases.

Requesting anonymity, a Toronto-based Sikh leader said, "The survey shows that the Air India bombing of 1985 and the on-going violence among the Indo-Canadian Punjabi youth in British Columbia have created stereotypes about the Sikhs."

Among the more than a million South Asians in Canada, Sikhs and Hindus are the two biggest groups.