Courtesy of the hijrah. Source: Little mosques on the ocean: Halifax welcomes a growing Muslim population | CFJC Today
[Zia] Khan, who co-founded the mosque [the Centre for Islamic Development] about 17 years ago, has watched that change over the last few decades, and has been part of a demographic shift that is slowly changing the complexion of a largely uniform province to include a richer mix of languages, religions and cultural practices.
The numbers appear to bear that out.
The most recent census in 2011 listed Arabic as the third most commonly spoken language or mother tongue in Nova Scotia — at roughly 6,700 people — and second in Halifax, ahead of Mi’kmaq and Chinese.
Many of the Arabic speakers are part of the province’s Lebanese population, much of which is Christian, but a rising number are from other countries like Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
About 1,500 Syrian refugees also arrived in the province this year, boosting the number of Muslims and Arabic-speaking people in communities that many say are responding to the unique demands of a changing population when it comes to language, food and religion.
Gerry Mills, executive director of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, has overseen the arrival of many of the Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia since late last year, and says there have been visible gestures aimed at accommodating the growing Arabic-speaking population, which peaked in the 1990s as people fled conflict in the Middle East.
“In Halifax, I’m starting to see welcome signs and instruction signs and organizations … doing their pamphlets in Arabic, especially this year when we’ve seen a lot of people at one time speaking one language coming into the province,” she said, adding that some sports facilities, libraries and banks are now posting signs in Arabic.
“If you go into the banks and the grocery stores, you’ll begin to see people who clearly don’t have English as their first language. I don’t think you used to see that 15 years ago, but you do see that now and that’s wonderful.”
Hijabs are no longer an uncommon sight in the city’s core. And most Nova Scotians are learning to see immigrants as a solution to the aging province’s demographic crisis.
When Khan arrived there was one mosque in Halifax. Now, there are at least five, along with several halal grocery stores, markets and restaurants.
The rise in the number of people who speak Arabic in the city attracted the attention of Montreal-based radio station, Radio Middle East, an all-Arabic channel which began broadcasting remotely in Halifax in April, with plans to open offices this spring.
“Not everyone has encountered an Arab or Muslim, especially in Nova Scotia, and some people may not have ever had a friend who wasn’t white.”
The subtle bashing of white, Canadian, non-Muslims is ironic coming from Muslims who think Islam is a race. Many in Halifax probably wish they never had encountered Muslims. Like some of these folks:
- Halifax architecture firm has put a lien on the city’s new mosque – mosque got sharia compliant loan – failed to pay it back!
- Halifax: Mosque demands neighboring brewery’s liquor license be revoked
- Muslim “refugees” choke, slap Halifax school kids (video)
- Halifax Regional School Board covering up violence by Syrian students!
- Halifax salon offers women-only day for Muslims
- Halifax martial arts class separated by gender to accommodate Muslim man
After a few classes, the man handed out a book on Islam that gave tips on wife beating and said women not shrouded in Islamic dress are asking for it – Family fights to stop sharia law in public spaces