John Bingham, Telegraph, April 10, 2015
Four in 10 British Muslims believe that police and MI5 are partly responsible for the radicalisation of young people who support extremists, new polling has found.
A survey commissioned by Sky News, also found that more than a quarter of British Muslims have some sympathy with those who have left to join fighters in Syria.
Among Muslim women and those under the age of 35, the figure rises to a third.
While almost three quarters of Muslims polled said they believe the “values of British society” are compatible with those of their religion, one in seven said they were not.
But the polling of 1,000 Muslims and 1,000 non-Muslims by Survation, also pointed to a growing sense of alienation between members of Britain’s fastest growing faith group and wider society.
A third of Muslims said they experience more suspicion from others than a few years ago.
The perception is backed up by polling of non-Muslims, of whom 44 per cent–and 49 per cent of men–admitted they were more suspicious of Muslims than they were.
Strikingly, only one in five (22 per cent) of non-Muslims saw Islam as compatible with British values, with just over half saying it is not.
It also exposes a major mismatch in views over integration, with two thirds of Muslims believing that they are doing enough to integrate into British society but only 18 per cent of non-Muslims agreeing.
While six out of 10 Muslims polled strongly condemned those who left the UK to join fighters in Syria, 28 per cent expressed sympathy with those who did so.
That includes eight per cent said who they had “a lot” of sympathy with those who did so and a further fifth who said they had “some sympathy”.
Notably, one in seven non-Muslims also expressed sympathy with those who travelled to fight.
But the research also suggests widespread support in some areas for the idea that the actions of the police or security services were partly to blame for the actions of those who travelled to Syria to join terror groups.
Earlier this year, the pressure group Cage claimed that harassment by the security services had contributed to the radicalisation of Mohammed Emwazi, the London student identified as “Jihadi John”, the killer from the so-called Islamic State.
Downing Street, condemned the claims as “completely reprehensible”.
But the polling found that 39 per cent of British Muslims agreed with the idea that the actions of police and MI5 are contributing to radicalisation and only 28 per cent disagreed.
The finding was similar when the results were broken down by age and gender.
Meanwhile 16 per cent of non-Muslims polled also agreed with the idea and only half disagreed.
A spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “This poll once again confirms that Muslims feel British and have a strong affinity with our shared universal values.
“We are sad, however, that the survey also shows that non-Muslims are more suspicious of Muslims, reflecting a growth in Islamophobia in the country to the extent that it is now socially acceptable.
“We need collective action to heal the rifts amongst our communities: we must continue to build bridges between communities and explain the true meaning of our faith; but we must also ask whether the discourse amongst the media and politicians has played a role in dividing the community.”
She continued: “The poll also highlights the missed opportunity our law enforcement authorities have in working more closely with British Muslim communities, especially in relation to counter-terrorism.
“For many, current counter-terrorism measures, particularly related to the Prevent strategy, actually lead to greater alienation as Muslims are seen through the lens of security, rather than tackling the scourge of terrorism itself.”
And, she added: “We do not know the motivations of people who wish to go out to Syria or those who sympathise with those who do travel to Syria to fight.
“What is certain is that leaders across British Muslim communities and scholars have all warned against going to the region.
“The Syrian people are best served by lobbying and raising money here in the UK.”