Muslim Link operates within the changing landscape of the forth-largest Muslim community in Canada where individuals often only have the ties of religious identity in common. From recently arrived international students studying at the city’s colleges and universities to retirees who came to Ottawa in the late 1960s, Ottawa’s Muslim community defies one simple category.
Although our website is an online hub for Muslims across Canada, as we are based in Ottawa, our understanding of the diversity and complexity of Muslim communities is based on living in this city. In many ways, Ottawa is the perfect city to see the full spectrum of the ethno-cultural, religious, linguistic, and socio-economic diversity and complexity of our communities.
According to most recent figures from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), there are approximately 65,000 people living in Ottawa-Gatineau who self-identify as Muslim. This classification of “Muslim” does not distinguish between Muslim religious groups or degrees of religious practice. In reality, the region’s Muslims are a microcosm of the global Muslim population which is diverse and complex in practice, religious orientation and interpretation.
This region is home to cultures from around the world, and as such, the Muslim community represents this ethno-cultural diversity as well. The three most prominent racialized groups in Ottawa-Gatineau who identify as Muslim are Arab (26,215), Black (12,635), and South Asian (11,330) according to Statistics Canada (NHS 2011)
The percentage of Muslims holding degrees in post-secondary education is higher than the general population in Canada. However, there are also Muslims who are struggling to complete secondary and post-secondary education, to have their foreign credentials recognized, or to learn English as a Second Language. Further, Muslims work in a variety of trades and professions or struggle on social assistance. We have community members who have or are currently incarcerated.
Muslims make up a significant segment of the population of the various waves of refugees who have come to Canada over the last thirty years, and who continue to arrive here, most significantly refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen and now Syria.
They have also been a part of the various waves of immigrants accepted into the country searching for economic prosperity and religious and political freedom, most significantly from Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh and North African countries like Tunisia and Morocco.
Muslims live in all parts of the region, and live in various neighbourhoods. From social housing to wealthy suburban enclaves, Muslims are found throughout our city.
Muslims in Ottawa-Gatineau are quite young. The median age for Muslims in Canada is 28 (Statistics Canada 2011 NHS).
Muslims in Ottawa vote for political parties across the political spectrum. There are also many Muslims who are apathetic about voting or feel they cannot vote for religious reasons.
Striving to Reflect Ottawa’s Muslim Diversity
Muslim Link strives to reflect all of these forms of diversity in its:
a. Coverage b. Story Assignment c. Recruitment of Contributors d. Submissions
Muslim Link endeavors to represent the diversity of Muslim communities. Stories about Muslims of various ethno-cultural & socio-economic backgrounds, practice, etc., will be included on the website. Photographs representing the community’s diversity will also be included.
The following will be considered when assigning news & feature stories:
Religious diversity: Recognition of and respect for various Muslim religious affiliations, orientations and practices will be reflected in the coverage. Muslim Link does not distinguish between groups who identify themselves as Muslim. Muslim Link will not describe any Muslim religious affiliation, orientation or practice in a derogatory way.
Ethno-Cultural diversity: A wide range of ethno-communities will be represented on the website.
Socio-economic diversity: Members of various segments of these communities will find stories relevant to their socio-economic reality and experience.
Age: Half of the Muslim population of Ottawa-Gatineau is under 30, therefore stories must appeal to a wide range of ages, and reflect the issues relevant to each generation, as well as be written in a way that encourages inter-generational understanding and bridge-building.
Gender: Both men and women should find fair representation in the paper. Diversity of practice of both men and women should not be a limit on their representation online (ie. We publish photos of women with or without their hair covered)
Political diversity:Muslim Link does take the position that it is important to vote and be actively engaged in Canada’s democracy all year round, not just during elections. Muslim Link strives to be a non-partisan publication. We publish ads from any major political party but this does not equal endorsement of these parties. Muslim Link will seek out interviews or cover stories involving members of all major political parties and their supporters in order to support our readership in making informed decisions when they vote, however we will not officially endorse or support any one political party or candidate.
b. Story Assignment
Muslim Link will make efforts to recruit volunteer and paid writers who represent a broad swathe of the Muslim community. We also welcome non-Muslim writers. News reporters will be held to high journalistic principles and, as such, should not allow personal biases to affect coverage. However, given that reporters will often unconsciously apply biases to their reporting and writing based on their own experiences, all articles will be edited by the Editor-in-Chief in order to ensure that they conform to Muslim Link’s policies and overall tone. The website will also ensure that writers are offered feedback and training, if necessary.
Reporters are encouraged to cover stories from the full diversity of Canada’s Muslim communities. However, for particularly sensitive stories, reporters will be chosen who themselves represent the community being written about or have a history of trust with a particular community.
Muslim Link will also encourage the submission of opinion pieces that reflect the diversity of perspectives and experiences within the community. Opinion pieces solely reflect the opinions’ of the author(s).
c. Recruitment of Contributors
Muslim Link will promote itself through various civic, cultural and religious events in order to attract a wide variety of potential readers, writers and volunteers.
Social media also plays a critical role in ensuring that the Muslim Link brand becomes a known entity among various communities. This will lead to greater interest from diverse groups. There will be a special emphasis placed on ensuring the website is promoted by individuals on social media who represent various diverse communities.
Examples of events/ organizations to assist in the promotion of stories:
Local & regional conferences
Grassroots community organizing meetings
Jummahs at various mosques in the city
Social events, i.e. Community BBQs
Muslim student organizations’ events
Human rights and social justice organizations
Muslim Link encourages submissions from community members, but strongly recommends sending in an initial “pitch” (story proposal) to the Editor-in-Chief to make sure that the article topic, approach, and tone is something Muslim Link would be interested in publishing.
Muslim Link reserves the right to reject submissions on the following basis:
The submission does not focus on topics the website wishes to explore
The content or tone of the submission goes against the spirit of inclusion and respect for diversity we wish to reflect on the website
The submission is partisan in that it promotes one political parties’ position on an issue and criticizes another political party’s position without allowing for any response from the other political party. An exception to this could be made for submissions to our Voices Section depending on the intent of the piece.
Respect for Diverse Readership
Muslim Link contributors will be encouraged to write with both diverse Muslim communities, as well as other faith communities in Canada, in mind. All writing must reflect a respect for other faith communities as well as those who do not identify with a particular religion, as this diversity is part of our country.
Recognition of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Respect for the Findings of Human Rights Organizations
Muslim Link will not publish any material that is considered hateful to any group or individual protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Muslim Link will also base articles exploring human rights related issues on the findings of respected international human rights organizations’ such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Last modified: 7/4/2017
Muslim Link reserves the right to add, change, and modify this or other policies. This policy applies to Muslim Link issues from March 2014 onwards, however it may be applied retroactively to past articles at the Publisher’s discretion if the content of an article does not conform to this policy in an egregious manner. Contact the Editor-in-Chief for clarification or questions on anything in this document, or related issues.