Posted on April 9, 2024

Just One in Four British Muslims Believe Hamas Committed Murder and Rape in Israel

Camilla Turner, The Telegraph, April 6, 2024

Only one in four British Muslims believe that Hamas committed murder and rape in Israel on Oct 7, a major report has found.

A poll commissioned by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a counter-extremism think-tank, found that 46 per cent of British Muslims said they sympathise with Hamas.

The survey, which is the largest of its kind to be carried out since the Israel-Hamas conflict began, asked a range of questions to British Muslims as well as to the general public.

Its findings come on the six-month anniversary of the Oct 7 massacre, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killed around 1,200 citizens and took 253 people hostage.

The survey also found that just over half (52 per cent) of British Muslims want to make it illegal to show a picture of the Prophet Mohammed, compared to just 16 per cent of the public.

A third of British Muslims (32 per cent) want to see Shariah law implemented in the UK versus nine per cent of the public.

Younger and well-educated Muslims were the most likely to think Hamas did not commit atrocities on Oct 7, with the proportions rising to 47 per cent among 18 to 24-year-olds and 40 per cent among the university-educated.

On Friday night, ministers were urged to step up their efforts to counter extreme narratives.

Fiyaz Mughal, who founded interfaith groups Tell Mama, Faith Matters and Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, said the findings are “shocking but also not shocking”.

He said: “Hamas is an Islamist extremist and terrorist group and has been terrorising Gazans, Israelis and liberals within society for decades.

“The sense that Hamas did not conduct massacres and rapes in Israel is atrocious because it shows a closed-off mentality to anything emanating from Israel.”

The survey was carried out by JL Partners, the polling company which was founded by James Johnson, the former Downing Street pollster.

It also found that almost half (46 per cent) of British Muslims say Jews have too much power over UK government policy, compared to 16 per cent of the general public.

Among British Muslims, 41 per cent said Jews have too much power in the media industry and 39 per cent said Jews have too much power in the UK’s financial system.

‘At risk of social cohesion problem’

Mr Mughal said: “The findings confirm that a lot of work needs to be done to inform, challenge, and address old anti-Semitic tropes that are still circulating among some of my co-religionists.

“The Government has got to provide better guidance for teachers, schools and education establishments. The investment needs to happen as soon as possible because we are at real risk of a social cohesion problem.”

Asked whether Hamas committed murder and rape in Israel on Oct 7, 24 per cent of British Muslims said they had, compared to 62 per cent of the general public.

A further 39 per cent of British Muslims said Hamas did not commit atrocities, and 37 per cent said they did not know whether they had or had not.

Alan Mendoza, the executive director of HJS, said the findings show “the failure of counter-extremism policy over the years”.

He added: “What is probably going wrong is an unwillingness to tackle this kind of extremism for fear of being labelled Islamophobic or racist. There is a reluctance to call it out in the same way that people are very happy to call out far-Right extremism.

“The Government needs to find a way of supporting and strengthening the voice of moderate Muslims and drive the extremist narrative to the sidelines.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We have recently set out a series of measures which will promote social cohesion and counter religious hatred. Our plan will tackle division in our communities and ensure that we are protecting our democratic freedoms across the country.”