What do British Muslims really think? – Positive, Critical and Constructive, Muslim Reaction

As a gay British Muslim, this is what I think of the poll finding over half of UK Muslims want homosexuality banned

Muslims don’t talk about difficult things related to relationships and sex. On a religious level, it’s seen as taboo and on a more practical level, some British Muslims don’t share the native language of their parents.

…. Channel 4’s survey into British Muslims’ attitudes to living in Britain released today is also a sign of progress. An overwhelming 86 per cent of the over 1,000 Muslims surveyed said they feel a strong sense of belonging to Britain (higher than the national average of 83 per cent).

It comes as no surprise. It’s not just halal chickens in ASDA, but the feeling that we can practice our religion freely in Blighty and that local MPs that reflect our views. This means that – on the face of it at least – being Muslim and being British goes hand-in-glove (or should that be head-in-headscarf?) nowadays.

But not so fast. Because apparently, more than half of all British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal.

Let’s remember it took the rest of Britain a sexual revolution, a lot of activism, art and cinema along with some major reform to get to where we are now on gay rights. [The Independent] Read more

Yes, we Muslims must be braver and do more to integrate says Labour MP after former equalities chief’s call provokes furious backlash

Urgent calls for Britain to adopt a more ‘muscular’ approach to integrating Muslims into society triggered a furious row last night.

Former equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips urged Muslims to change their values and behaviour, saying the UK risks ‘sacrificing a generation of young British people’ if hardline Islamic values are not challenged

His call, in yesterday’s Daily Mail, was backed by MPs, although it also provoked a backlash from community groups who accused him of ‘stigmatising and scapegoating Muslims’.

Labour’s Khalid Mahmood, England’s first Muslim MP, said: ‘A lot of people are challenging unacceptable attitudes.

‘There are women’s groups doing this. I only wish more men in some communities were able to be as brave.’

But he said successive governments going back to the 1980s had pursued policies which had led to the ‘ghetto-isation’ of Muslim communities.

‘Trevor Phillips is right in terms of saying we must get the community to integrate far more,’ he said. [Daily Mail] Read more

Birmingham has failed to integrate Muslims, says MP Khalid Mahmood

A Birmingham MP has backed warnings that some Muslims have struggled to integrate into British society – and said both central government and local councils must take a share of the blame.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr and the first Muslim MP to represent an English constituency, spoke out following the publication of a survey which found some Muslims held negative views about homosexuals and the place of women.

The study was commissioned by Channel 4 and forms the basis of a television documentary called What British Muslims Really Think, which is due to be broadcast on Wednesday and presented by Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

But Mr Mahmood said he did not believe the poll was accurate.

The survey also found that the overwhelming majority of British Muslims had a positive view of life in the UK.

But speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Mr Mahmood said politicians had made a series of mistakes which meant some Birmingham Muslims from poorer families were “isolated”. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

British Muslims aren’t foreign invaders. They are building a liberal, home-grown faith

In the debate about the isolation or otherwise British Muslims, as accusations fly that there is an Islamic “state within a state”, it is important to get right what our common citizenship demands. A liberal society should not police freedom of thought or freedom of expression, nor insist that citizens sign up to every aspect of a secular worldview.

What we do need agreement on is the equal status of our fellow citizens. People can hold religiously conservative views – like my mother – but they must accept the equal status of their fellow Britons. Indeed, what matters most in “British values”, is accepting the freedom of speech of those we disagree with.

The Channel 4 poll presents a mixed picture of integration. People will be worried that almost a quarter of those surveyed would like to see Sharia law implemented. Clearly, that isn’t going to happen – the rule of law depends fundamentally on one law for all. And put another way, more than three-quarters of British Mulsims don’t want sharia. [The Telegraph] Read more

What do British Muslims really think?

This was the week when British Muslims became experts in research methodology.

Trevor Phillips, who led the Equality and Human Rights Commission, presented the Channel 4 show What British Muslims Really Think on Wednesday night, which was based on an ICM survey — and it has created quite a debate.

The ICM surveyed 1,000 Muslims face-to-face and found that:

One in 25 Muslims (four per cent) said they felt at least some sympathy with people who took part in suicide bombings, while a similar proportion said they had some sympathy with “people who commit terrorist actions as a form of political protest”.

A quarter – 25 per cent – said they could understand why British school girls could be attracted to become “jihadi brides” overseas.

Less than half (47 per cent) agreed that Muslims should do more to tackle the causes of extremism in the Muslim community.

52 per cent believed homosexuality should not be legal in Britain, 39 per cent agreed “wives should always obey their husbands”, and 31 per cent said it was acceptable for a man to have more than one wife.

78% said the media had no right publish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

Rather than addressing the important issues raised from this poll, the usual suspects — including left-wing commentators — are either downplaying the worrying responses or dismissing this entirely as ‘Islamophobic’. We don’t like it when our dirty laundry is aired in public. There are either absolutely no problems, or if there are, it’s everyone else’s fault but ours.

This poll didn’t really tell us anything new. It is a fact that British Muslims, on the whole, do tend to be more conservative. As writer and lecturer Kenan Malik points out: [Sedaa.org] Read more


…. Much of the debate around the poll, and Phillips’ own commentary, has confused three issues: social conservatism, integration and jihadism.

We should be rightly concerned with the degree of illiberal social attitudes within Muslim communities, especially as it was very different just a generation ago. We should not simply shrug our shoulders and say ‘That’s what happens in a plural society’.

We should combat illiberal attitudes, from whichever group, and support those struggling for a progressive future, including within Muslim communities. Too often liberals betray such progressives in the name of ‘tolerance’ or ‘pluralism’. But holding illiberal views is not necessarily the same as failing to integrate – and this poll does not reveal a link between the two.

We should also be concerned with the more fragmented nature of British society today, with people inhabiting their own identity silos, and with the lack social contact between different groups (some evidence for which is revealed in this poll). We should be concerned, too, with the growth of sectarianism within Muslim communities.

There is a good argument to be made that silo-building has helped create the well of social conservatism within Muslim communities, and has encouraged sectarianism. The problem is not so much a lack of integration as the view, promulgated by many politicians and policy makers, that it is through identity groups that such integration should take place. We need to challenge the social and multicultural policies that have, over the past three decades, helped entrench identity politics and encouraged silo-building. [Pandaemonium – Kenan Malik] Read more

How Trevor Phillips misrepresented ICM’s poll on British Muslims

…. One major problem was the arguments put forward by Trevor Phillips. On several occasions he misrepresented polling data. The first example concerns how social Muslims are with non-Muslims. He led with the stat that 56 per cent mix with non-Muslims outside of their home on a daily basis.

Yes, it’s true that 21 per cent visit non-Muslims once a year, and the same figure never visit non-Muslim homes. Audiences were not told, however, that 17 per cent of Muslims have social visits from non-Muslims in their homes on a daily basis. That figure rises to 19 per cent on a weekly basis and a fifth on a monthly basis. Muslims polled by ICM make a similar effort to visit the homes of their non-Muslims friends on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Nor did Trevor Phillips seek to interrogate this question. He did not consider why some Muslims would not visit the homes of non-Muslims. Did he not consider the health of individuals? Disability or long-term health issues may limit social activities and visits. What of economic factors like the cost of bus fares in deprived areas limiting social mobility and activities?

Young Muslims were also more likely to have non-Muslim friends visit their homes on a daily basis. And social mixing also exists on social media platforms. These factors were simply ignored.

The ICM poll has its flaws but it remains a comprehensive look at the views of 51 per cent of self-identified Muslims in England and Wales. Nor did the poll explore the diversity of Islamic belief – were individuals Sunni, Shia, Deobandi? [TELLMAMA] Read more