Muslims Have Stronger Feelings of Britishness: Poll

CAIRO – A new poll has found that a vast majority of British Muslims have a strong sense of belonging in Britain, showing more feelings of Britishness than the national average.

“These [media] stereotypes do not reflect the reality of Muslims in Britain,” Shaista Gohir, the chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, told The Guardian on Monday, April 11.

“It is important to also display these positive attitudes … because that represents the British Muslim majority.”

Support AboutIslam in 2021

The survey, conducted by ICM Research, found that 86% of British Muslims feel a strong sense of belonging in Britain, which is higher than the national average of 83 percent.

A large majority, 91 percent, of the British Muslims who took part in the survey said they felt a strong sense of belonging in their local area, which is higher than the national average of 76 percent.

Of those questioned, 88% said Britain was a good place for Muslims to live in, and 78% said they would like to integrate into British life on most things apart from Islamic schooling and some laws.

The survey also revealed that a total of 96 per cent of British Muslims do not sympathize with those who take part in suicide bomb attacks.

In general, the research found that attitudes held by the British Muslim population do not broadly differ from those held by the population at large.

A slight difference appeared in issues such as homosexuality as the poll showed that 18 percent said they agreed that homosexuality should be legal in Britain and 52 percent said they disagreed, compared with 5% among the public at large who disagreed.

The survey of 1,081 British Muslims, commissioned by Channel 4, is representative of the entire UK population and more accurate than other polls because it was carried out face-to-face and avoided going through umbrella organizations, the broadcaster said.

“We are more nervous about Muslims because we feel people will be offended,” said Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But my view is that looking at the results of this survey, which have surprised me, that we have gone beyond the situation where we can say: ‘OK, don’t worry; they will come round in time,’ because that is not going to happen we have to make things change now.”

Welcomed

The results of the survey were welcomed by British Muslims for showing their true feelings towards their country.

“I think the real issue is that their participation in British society needs to increase,” Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, said.

“What this [polling] highlights is that the community hasn’t progressed from what was happening in the 80s and … that they have been isolated without being able to have further integration,” he said.

Mahmood argued that this was in large part due to a shortage of housing, which had led to overcrowding in British Asian areas. “It’s not for the want of trying,” he added.

Shaista Gohir, the chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, said interviews with other religious groups such as devout Jews and Christians would probably reveal similar social attitudes to those of Muslims.

“Although they may not accept it from a religious point of view, [Muslims] accept that people should be able to have the freedom and right not be discriminated against and live their lives,” said Gohir.

Meanwhile, she said that the findings proved that media portrayal of Muslims as not feeling proud to be British was wrong.

“These stereotypes do not reflect the reality of Muslims in Britain,” she said.

“It is important to also display these positive attitudes … because that represents the British Muslim majority.”