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It Takes More Than Kind Smiles and Nice Gestures: On the Integration of Muslim Immigrants

February 21, 2013, St. John's, NL

Session Description

While the process of immigrant integration into any host society has some universal properties, there are at least two features that set Muslim immigrants apart: a relatively rapid increase in their population, and a perceived difficulty with their ability or willingness to integrate. As a result, a distinct debate has emerged surrounding Muslim immigration, particularly in the post-9/11 era.

 A closer examination of this issue in the Canadian context is important for two reasons. First, Muslim immigrants are one of the most highly-educated groups of immigrants in Canada, and any problems with their integration could have negative economic consequences. Second, within the western world, Canada has a reputation as a model for immigrant integration; and in today’s international migration environment, the integration of Muslim immigrants is the most telling indicator of a successful model.

 Against this backdrop, Dr. Abdie Kazemipur uses a wide range of empirical data to examine this issue in the Canadian context, with reference to the United States and Western Europe. It also discusses the implications of the findings for Atlantic Canada, and for a more general conceptual framework for understanding the integration and retention of immigrants.

Dr. Abdie Kazemipur

Dr. Abdie Kazemipur is professor of sociology and the Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Culture Change at Memorial University. For the past 15 years, he has been involved in research and teaching on immigration and culture issues, in Canada and in the Middle-East. He was an affiliate of the Metropolis Project, an international research initiative that brought together academics, policy-makers, and community leaders involved in immigration research and practice. Dr. Kazemipur is the author of 7 books, the last one of which – The Crescent and the Maple Leaf: On the ‘Muslim Question’ in Canada – is presently under review at UBC Press. He is currently working on two new book manuscripts, tentatively titled: The Sacred Mosaic in Motion: Religion and Immigration in Canada, and The Great Transformation in Iran: Secularization under the Islamic Republic. He is one of the 13 co-investigators of a nationwide Canadian project called “Pathways to Prosperity,” which has just received $2.5 M from SSHRC to study the various aspects of immigrant integration in Canada. 

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