Posted on October 8, 2013

Many Young Britons Do Not Trust Muslims, Poll Finds

Rosa Silverman, Telegraph (London), September 25, 2013

More than a quarter of young adults in Britain mistrust Muslims, a BBC survey shows.

Some 27% of the thousand 18 to 24-year-olds questioned said they did not trust them, while fewer than three in 10 (29%) thought Muslims were doing enough to tackle extremism in their communities.

A similar proportion of the young people polled (28%) said the country would be better off with fewer Muslims and almost half (44%) felt Muslims did not share the same values as everyone else.

The BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat survey was carried out by the pollsters Comres in June after the soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in the street in Woolwich, south east London, in May.

Despite its findings on the degree to which Muslims were mistrusted, it showed that young adults were more likely to agree (48%) than disagree (27%) that Islam is a peaceful religion.

They were also found to be divided over the question of whether immigration is good for the UK.

Around two fifths (42%) believe it is a good thing but more than a third disagree (35%), the survey showed.

Terror groups operating in foreign countries were held responsible for Islamophobia in Britain by 26% of respondents, while 23% blamed the media and 21% placed the blame on UK Muslims who have committed terrorist acts.

Akeela Ahmed, from the cross-government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, said: “These findings indicate that we need to ensure young people are mixing at local levels and that they’re working on projects together so that people can get to know Muslims and vice versa.”

Matthew Goodwin, Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham and another of the group’s members, said every survey run by himself or his academic colleagues clearly showed that a “significant proportion” of the British public harboured negative views of Islam.

This suggested, by extension, that they also felt negatively about British Muslim communities, he added.

Levels of distrust of other religious groups were lower, meanwhile.

Of the young adults polled, 16% said they did not trust Hindus or Sikhs, 15% said they did not trust Jews, 13% mistrusted Buddhists and 12% did not trust Christians

A recent YouGov poll found that 61% of people wanted a ban on burkas in Britain.

But those aged 18 to 39 were much less likely to agree with the idea of a ban than those aged 40 or older.

MPs have called for a national debate on the issue following controversies over whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the veil at a Birmingham college and in the dock during a London court case.

The Muslim Council of Britain claimed in July that there had been an “unprecedented escalation of violence” against Muslims and mosques since Fusilier Rigby’s killing.