Patriotic, Respectful and Homophobic: A Portrait of British Muslims' State of Mind
Green, Chris, The Independent (London, England)
Giant global survey reveals the opinions that shape nation's 2.4 million-strong Islamic population
A startlingly candid snapshot of the views and beliefs of Muslims living in Britain today has been uncovered by the first-ever study of Islamic interfaith relations across the world. The reseach, a collaboration between Gallup and the Coexist Foundation, challenges the view that the country's 2.4 million Muslims are largely intolerant of the British way of life. British Muslims were found to identify more strongly with the UK than the rest of the population, and have a much higher regard for the country's institutions.
However, the poll also found that the vast majority of Muslims have extremely conservative views on moral issues such as homosexuality and the death penalty, which differ dramatically from those held by the rest of the UK population. The wide-ranging study, entitled The Gallup Coexist Index 2009, was based on data collected through polls of residents in more than 140 countries. More than 1,500 interviews were conducted in the UK alone.
77% SAID THEY STRONGLY IDENTIFIED WITH UK
Perhaps the survey's most surprising finding was that more than three-quarters of British Muslims (77 per cent) said they identified "very strongly" with the UK, compared to just half (50 per cent) of the general public. This contradicts the idea that Muslims are outsiders who have little in common with the UK, and is further borne out by a second statistic: 82 per cent said British Muslims were loyal to the country. Professor Ziauddin Sardar, a London- based scholar who specialises in the future of Islam, said that British Muslims with Pakistani or Middle Eastern heritage are all too aware of the troubles in their homelands and can see the UK's benefits better than those who have lived here for generations. "They look at the stability of Britain and appreciate it deeply," he said.
0% THOUGHT THAT HOMOSEXUALITY WAS MORALLY ACCEPTABLE
Not a single British Muslim said homosexuality was morally acceptable, compared to 58 per cent of the general public who believed it was. In other European countries with large Muslim populations such as France and Germany, the difference was far less pronounced: more than a third of French Muslims said they did not have a problem with homosexuality.
However, Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, who has written a book about growing up in Britain as a Muslim woman, said the UK's apparently stark contrast did not necessarily point to a divided society. "Part of the British way is that you can have your own opinions as long as you can live harmoniously with others. …