The growth of Muslim population in Canada is the focus of a survey, which will also shed light on the increasing proportion of people with no religious affiliation in the country.
''There seems to be growing concern about the growth of Islam, arising from high-profile incidents in the news,'' Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, told Postmedia News agency on Tuesday, May 7.
''That may lend itself to more debate about immigration and multiculturalism – which would be the wrong conclusion to draw, to my point of view.''
The survey, which took the place of the long-form census in 2011, focuses on concerns about the rising number of Muslims in Canada.
The results, which are expected to be released on Wednesday, are expected to be close to recent results of a 1,500-person survey conducted last March by Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies
The March results showed that fewer than half of respondents – 46 percent – held a positive opinion of Muslims.
By contrast, 70 percent held favorable views of Catholics, 74 percent for Protestants, 69 percent for Jews and 61 percent for atheists.
Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) said they trusted Muslims ''very little'' or ''not at all.''
The NHS survey was conducted ahead of a recent terror plot that was aborted upon a tipoff from Muslim leaders.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Looking on religious affiliation across the country, the survey is also expected to reflect an increasing proportion of people with no religious affiliation.
''I expect an increase in the number of people who say (they have) no religion,'' said Jedwab.
''I also expect to see increases in people who identify with religions other than Christian … The net result would be a decrease in the number of people who identify as Catholic or Protestant.''
Prior to 1971, less than one percent of Canadians claimed no religion. By the 2001 census, it had spiked to 16.5 percent.
Other experts predict a growth in Hispanic Catholicism as well as Chinese immigrants who identify themselves as Christian.
''Religion is regarded, generally, by the Canadian establishment as a private concern that has nothing to do with society,'' said Irving Hexham, professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary.
''But people are maintaining their roots much longer and deeper than in the past, and those roots often involve violent conflict. We need to know about that: where things are likely to occur, or unlikely to occur, and how people are assimilating.''
A recent global survey has found that religiosity was in decline around the world, with more people declaring themselves as atheists.
The survey, by the WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters, found a steep drop in religiosity around the world.
It found that average religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a decline of 9 points since 2005.
The poll also found that the number of people declaring themselves to be convinced atheists rose from 4 percent worldwide in 2005 to 7 percent this year.
North America reported 57 percent religiosity, Western Europe 51 percent and Eastern Europe 66 percent.