“Maybe the Syrian crisis will be good — if it can force us to focus not only on refugees, but also on the homeless.
I’ve thought a lot about this. My heart goes out for all humanity. We have to push for resources on both these issues.”
– Farida Bano, psychiatric nurse
David Ali wants the safety of Canadians to come first as Metro Vancouver’s diverse Muslim population prepares to sponsor Syrian refugees.
“We are strong believers in security. It’s our No. 1 priority. If Canadian officials feel any possible refugee is suspect … they must do due diligence,” said Ali, a spokesman for the B.C. Muslim Association, which represents more than 40,000 Sunni Muslims.
“We don’t want the wrong people to come to Canada to create problems for us.”
There are more than 74,000 Muslims in Metro Vancouver.
The largest group among Metro Vancouver’s 74,000 Muslims is made up of immigrants from Iran, many of whom live on the North Shore. They are followed by Pakistani Muslims, who tend to live in north Surrey, according to Statistics Canada data. A third significant cohort of Metro’s Muslims, about 9,000, consist of Arabs from countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, many of whom live in Burnaby.
Even though the majority of B.C.’s Muslims are Sunnis, the province is also home to thousands of Shia and Ismaili Muslims.
Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan, many of whom came to Canada as refugees from Uganda in the 1970s, have put most of their recent efforts into supporting war-ravaged refugees within Syria or in nearby Middle Eastern countries.
The Aga Khan Foundation Canada has spent several years aiding roughly 150,000 Syrians who have been “internally displaced” by conflict — providing food, water, shelter, education and other forms of assistance, says Nadia Somani, of the Foundation.
The Syrian civil war has created more than four million refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom remain in Syria or in nearby Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey.
Discover, Explore and Learn more via The Vancouver Sun | Douglas Todd: B.C. Muslims fear ‘backlash’