Macer Hall, Express, December 2, 2016
Forty-three per cent of followers of the religion living in the country believed that parts of the Islamic legal system should replace British law while only 22 per cent opposed the idea.
Researchers also found “deeply worrying” levels of belief among British Muslims in conspiracy theories such as blaming the US government or “Jews” for the 9/11 terror attacks on America.
The findings were revealed last night in one of the biggest surveys of opinion among Muslims ever carried out in the UK. Data from the polling firm ICM showed very similar views to the rest of the UK population on a range of key issues including the NHS, unemployment and immigration.
But the research commissioned by the Westminster-based think tank Policy Research found stark differences with other sections of society on the issues of Sharia Law and some aspects of the terrorist threat.
The findings were set out in the report “Unsettled Belonging: Britain’s Muslim Communities” published by Policy Exchange last night.
More than 3,000 Muslims living in Britain were quizzed for the research.
When asked whether “particular aspects” of sharia law should be introduced “instead of British law” in the survey, 16 per cent of respondents “strongly” supported the idea while 25 per cent said they “tend to support” the idea.
A total of 13 per cent were inclined to oppose the idea while 9 per cent “strongly” opposed it.
Questions in the survey suggested sharia law could relate to civil law cases “such as financial disputes, divorce or other family matters” but could also cover other issues.
When it came to 9/11, 31 per cent of Muslims quizzed in the survey thought the US Government was to blame while 7 per cent blamed “the Jews”.
In contrast, only 4 per cent thought the terror group Al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York Twin Towers and other targets.
Writing a foreword for the report, Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: “This readiness to believe in conspiracy theories and the mentality of victimhood to which it speaks is having a pernicious effect on British Muslims and the way they see the world.
“It is holding us back–as a community–and ensuring that we remain locked in a paranoid and at times fearful worldview.”
Dr Martyn Frampton, co-author of the report, and Head of Security and Counter Extremism at Policy Exchange, said the evidence of belief in “conspiracy theory” was “deeply worrying”.
He said: “In nearly every walk of life, British Muslims are no different in their views and priorities to their non-Muslim neighbours.
“They believe the NHS, jobs and immigration to be the most pressing issues facing the country and worry deeply about the effect of drugs and drinking on their communities.
“However, the research found a deeply worrying belief in conspiracy theories such as 9/11.
“Unlike the general population, nearly a third of British Muslims believe the American government was responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers, while a surprisingly tiny number attributed blame to al-Qaeda.”
David Goodhart, co-author of the report and Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Integration and Immigration Unit, said: “British Muslims as a whole continue to live somewhat more separately than other large ethno-cultural minorities–in neighbourhoods and schools, in terms of women not working, and in terms of attitudes and religiosity.
“However, the promising news from this survey is that when it comes to everyday life British Muslims, and their concerns and interests, are increasingly part of the mainstream, and to a much greater extent than one would assume listening to many of the organisations that claim to speak for Muslims.”
The report said found that 26 per cent of Muslims did not believe in extremism and 48 per cent would not turn to the police if someone close to them became involved with people linked to Syrian terrorism.
It found 93 per cent of respondents had a fairly strong or very strong attachment to Britain and more than half wanted to fully integrate with non-Muslims in all aspects of life.
More Muslims condemned terrorism than the rest of the population – 90 per cent to 84 per cent – and 55 per cent wanted to see extra police on the streets.
The report found that the Muslim Council of Britain enjoys little support in the community, with just 9 per cent of respondents backing it.
It also suggested the Government should not be “spooked” into abandoning or apologising for its controversial Prevent agenda, which tries to stop people being drawn into terrorism, because Muslim communities are “generally relaxed” about intervention to tackle extremism.