This mornings Times only printed the sparsest of details of this month’s Populus poll (the full voting intention figures are due to be published tomorrow). What they did publish were the details of a Populus poll of British Muslims carried out in December on behalf of several Jewish community groups. Like previous such polls it shows that the majority of British Muslims do not condone terrorism or extremism, but once again shows that a minority have deeply unpalatable opinions.
The poll found that few Muslims think the self-appointed groups that claim to speak on behalf of British Muslims actually represent them. The Muslim Council of Britain was the group who the largest proportion of British Muslims thought represented their views, but even then only 25% thought the MCB absolutely or broadly reflected their views, while 30% though it rarely or never represented their views. The more radical Muslim Association of Britain was seen as even less representative (though the sample size of the poll was only 500, so the difference isn’t significant).
Asked which prominent Muslims they tend to agree with, the only figure who received strong support was Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) – 49% of British Muslims said they agreed with the general statements he made, with only 5% saiding they tended to disagree with him. There was a more non-committal view of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, 20% said they tended to agree with him, 10% said they tended to disagree with him. There were similarly mixed options of Dr Zaki Badawi, who died last month, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The two radical Muslim clerics Omar Bakri Mohammed and Abu Hamza were viewed more negatively – 30% disagreed with Abu Hamza’s statements while only 13% agreed, the figures for Omar Bakri Mohammed were 27% disagree and 17% agree. Populus note that younger British Muslims tended to view extremists more favourably – 28% of Muslims under the age of 24 tended to agree with Omar Bakri Mohammed and 27% tended to agree with Abu Hamza. Once again though it’s important to remember the sample size of 500 means that cross-breaks on age are very small, and the differences could be just sample error.
Asked about suicide bombings, 7% of British Muslims told Populus they thought suicide bombings were justifiable in Britain. This is in line with polls of British Muslims last year asking if the London bombings were justifiable. Asked if suicide bombings were justifiable in Israel, 16% of British Muslims agreed.
Populus then asked some questions about attitudes towards Jews and Israel. A bare majority of British Muslims (52%) did support the right of the state of Israel to exist, 30% did not. 31% thought that the Muslim Community should participate in Holocaust Memorial day, while 56% said they should not (21% said they shouldn’t because of Israeli treatment of Palestine, 12% because it ignored Muslim suffering, 20% for unspecified other reasons, 4% said they didn’t believe the Holocause happened).
Finally Populus gave respondents a list of statements about the Jewish community in the UK and asked if they agreed or disagreed with them. 58% of British Muslims thought that the Jewish Community supported Israel right or wrong, 20% disagreed (a net agreement rating of +38). 57% though they had no interest in the plight of the Palestinians, 21% disagreed (net agreement rating of +36). 53% thought that the Jewish community had too much influence on foriegn policy (net agreement +34), 46% thought that the Jewish community were in league with the freemasons to control the media and politics (net agreement +24!) and, most worryingly, 37% thought they were “legitimate targets as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East (net agreement +2).