Social media was buzzing this week over a new Environics poll of Canadian Muslims. It should have served to dismiss a lot of poisonous misperceptions out there about matters of loyalty and belonging in Muslim communities. Instead, the initial media coverage ended up angering many.
CBC’s original headline acknowledged some of the good news — but somehow still managed to frame the results in a negative light: “Muslim Canadians love Canada, but faith more important to their identity: survey”.
That “but” seemed to suggest that one couldn’t both love Canada and strongly identify as Muslim — that somehow, for Muslims, patriotism and faith are mutually exclusive. To its credit, the CBC quickly reacted to the feedback and changed the headline — but the damage had been done. The majority of reader comments reacting to the initial story were negative, harping on stereotypes portraying Muslims as people who are unable or unwilling to integrate — people who want to ‘change’ Canada to suit themselves.