Posted on February 9, 2006

Poll of British Muslims

Populus (London), Feb. 7, 2006

Populus interviewed 500 Muslims between December 9th and December 19th 2005. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For a full description of the methods we use, please click here.


The Muslim community in Britain lacks a single, unifying voice at both an institutional and an individual level.

The Muslim Council of Britain is the only organisation about whom more Muslims say that it broadly or absolutely represents their views than say that it doesn’t represent their views at all. Even then only a quarter of Muslims polled say that the MCB speaks for them anything more than occasionally

Among individual Muslim leaders, only Yusuf Islam stands out as an individual whose teachings and statements Muslims very much or somewhat agree with. Nearly half of those polled say this. Among the rest, Abu Hamza speaks for a quarter, while figures such as Sheikh Badawi, Omar Bakri Mohammed, Yusuf Qaradawi and Iqbal Sacranie each represent no more than a fifth of the sample.

Muslims are increasingly turning to their own sources of information to find out what is really going on in the Middle East rather than relying on the same sources as the rest of the British population.

Two thirds (68%) say they rely on English language Muslim TV channels, more than the 58% who rely on the BBC. In fact as many (57%) are likely to turn to the clerics at their local Mosque as tune in to Britain’s national broadcaster, and more (49%) are likely to learn about events in the Middle East from the English language Muslim press than from national newspapers (42%).

A significant proportion of Muslims of all ages regard the Jewish community and its links to Israel with suspicion

More than half (56%) think it right to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day (a figure that rises to 69% among 18-24 year olds). While the most popular specified reason, mentioned by a fifth, is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, an equal number favour the boycott for ‘other reasons’.

By a clear majority those surveyed believe that the Jewish community defends Israel whether it is right or wrong (58% v 20%), think that it has no interest in the plight of the Palestinians (57% v 21%), deem it to have too much influence over the direction of UK foreign policy (53% v 19%), and believe it be in league with the freemasons to control the media and politics (46% v 22%). And as many (37%) think that the Jewish community is a legitimate target in the struggle for justice in the Middle East, as disagree with this sentiment (35%).

Though a half (52%) of those surveyed say that Israel has a right to exist, 16% still believe suicide bombings in Israel can sometimes be justified and 7% say the same about suicide bombings in Britain. This last figure is broadly comparable to the ICM poll of Muslims taken after the 7 th July bombings last year, where 5% said further attacks by British suicide bombers would be justified.

Among 18-24 year olds those who believe suicide bombings can sometimes be justified rises to 21% for Israel and 12% for the UK.