At the weekend the Sunday Times reported a new ICM poll of British Muslims, conducted for a Channel Four documentary later this week. I’ve written about polls of ethnic and religious minorities in Britain here before – they tend be both controversial and extremely difficult to do. On top of that the topics that tend to get asked carry with them risks of stoking racial tension, so it is crucial that they are done in the most responsible and robust way possible.

So how do you conduct a poll of British Muslims? With difficulty – there is no ideal way, no route that does not include compromises and result in skews and biases. British Muslims are around about 5% of the population, distributed unevenly around the country. Some groups within the community will have come here only recently, and perhaps have poor English. That’s difficult to poll in an affordable way – let’s go through the possibilities. The first would be to go to a very large database of people of known demographics (such as the existing panels of YouGov or another internet polling company) and recruit Muslims from there – this is the easiest route, the company will already know the religion of their panellists and at 5% incidence you’ll probably be able to get enough. The problem is that the British Muslims who join an internet panel are probably skewed towards the well integrated, people who have been here for years or generations and speak fluent English.

What about telephone polling? Well at 5% incidence just randomly ringing numbers and asking if they are Muslim isn’t a feasible route. Things that have been tried in the past include re-contacting Muslims who have taken part in past general polls and indicated a willingness to take part in future polls, snowballing (that is, asking Muslim interviewees for contact numbers for other Muslims who would be willing to take part) or even just ringing up people with “Muslim names” in telephone number databases. These all have their own potential biases.

The final approach is face-to-face sampling, knocking on doors and asking to interview people. This has the same problems as telephone of Muslims only being 5% of the population, but it can be tackled by knocking on doors in areas with a high proportion of Muslims. Here comes the compromise: if you are knocking on doors in Tower Hamlets one in three households will be Muslim, if you are polling in Cornwall only one in five hundred households will be Muslim. Face-to-face polls of British Muslims therefore ignore those areas with a very low percentage of British Muslims, where it is not financially feasible to knock on hundreds of doors for every interview. This inevitably produces a skew towards those British Muslims who live in Muslims areas, but it is a matter of degree how mild or serious it is.

So if we go back to the Ethnic Minority British Election Study back in 2010, they only did interviews in areas that were least 2% BME in the census, which covered 88% of the BME population in Britain. They had a budget that was the best part of a million quid though, and I doubt Channel 4 were willing to go that far for a poll. By necessity ICM’s poll was more limited. It covered areas (Local Super Output Areas to be specific – it’s an ONS defined area of about 1000-1500 people) that are at least 20% Muslim. This covers about 51% of the British Muslim population, meaning the 49% of British Muslims that live in areas with a lower concentration of Muslims were not included in the poll.

For obvious reasons it is likely that a British Muslim who lives in an area where all their friends and colleagues are also Muslim may have different attitudes to a British Muslim who lives in an area where there are few other Muslims and their friends and colleagues are mostly non-Muslim. It also means the poll was probably skewed towards areas of relative social deprivation, and perhaps towards Muslims of particular ethnic backgrounds. The poll would not have been perfect… but then, no other poll of British Muslims would be either. It’s probably the best attempt to poll British Muslims properly that we’ve seen for several years and, given no one is waiting around the corner with a cheque for a million quid to do a more elaborately sampled poll than ICM’s, I think we should probably take this one seriously, but having due regard for the limitations of the sample. This is a poll of those British Muslims living in areas with a comparatively high Muslim population, which may well mean they are less integrated and have more conservative views than British Muslims living in areas that are overwhelmingly non-Muslim. With that caveat aside, what does it actually say about those British Muslims?

Let’s start by confirming the finding of previous surveys – the overwhelming majority of British Muslims identify as British. In fact, more so than the British population in general – 86% of British Muslims identify as British, 83% of the GB population in general. British Muslims are more likely to feel they can influence decisions in their area than most people in GB, feel better represented by their MP and local councillors. In terms of belonging and confidence they are part of the polity, British Muslims seem very well integrated.

ICM also asked about various measures of social conservatism. British Muslims were consistently more socially conservative than the British population as a whole, strikingly so in questions about attitudes towards homosexuality. 33% of Muslims thought boys and girls should be educated separately, 47% disagreed it was acceptable for a homosexual to teach in a school, 52% disagreed that homosexuality should be legal, 39% said wives should always obey their husbands.

The next section explored the issue of anti-Semitism. In terms of attitudes towards Jewish people themselves, British Muslims were not hostile. ICM asked respondents to express their feelings towards different religious and ethnic groups on a thermometer. On average Muslim respondents rated their feelings towards Jewish people at 57, compared to 64 among the GB control sample. Not a huge gulf, though it was larger than the gap on parallel questions about Catholics, Protestants and so on. The Muslim sample were, however, less likely to say they thought anti-Semitism was a problem in Britain today and were significantly more likely to agree with a range of anti-Semitic tropes than the wider GB population were. Around a third of British Muslims agreed with statements about Jews having too much power and influence in Britain and the world, compared to about one in ten in the control sample.

The final part of the survey dealt with attitudes towards violence and terrorism. This is the often the most controversial part of polls of British Muslims, and the bit that is often rightly criticised. It is important to be careful with wording and it is crucial that there is a control sample of non-Muslims to avoid painting Muslims as unusually supportive of violence or terrorism when non-Muslims would actually answer questions in the same way. The ICM poll does well on both, asking a broad range of different scenarios and issues, all also asked to a GB control sample.

Asked about the use of violence in general, answers of British Muslims and the GB control sample were not that different. Sympathy for violence against government injustice or police injustice were similar. Muslim respondents were more sympathetic for violence in defence of religion, the GB sample were significantly more sympathetic towards violence to protect one’s family.

Asked about support for terrorism, British Muslims were more likely to say they were sympathetic to terrorism than the GB control sample, but the net figures were extremely low in both cases.

  • Asked about organising radical groups, the GB control sample was the more sympathetic. 11% would sympathise, 74% condemn. Among British Muslims the figures were 6% sympathise, 75% condemn.
  • Now asked about making threats of terrorism, 6% of British Muslims said they would sympathise, 79% condemn. The figures in the GB control sample were 2% sympathise, 95% condemn.
  • Asked about actually committing terrorist actions, 4% of British Muslims said they would sympathise, 83% condemn. In the GB control sample 1% would sympathise, 95% would condemn.

The survey then asked more specifically about issues around ISIS. 7% of British Muslims said they supported the principle of ISIS’s aims – the creation of a caliphate – 67% were opposed. However support for the principle of an Islamic State does not necessarily imply support for ISIS’s actions, asked if they supported how ISIS was attempting to set up an Islamic State support fell to 3%.

So overall, we have a picture of a British Muslim community that identifies with Britain. It has views that that are much more socially conservative than Britain in general, particularly on homosexuality. The overwhelming majority of British Muslims condemn terrorism and ISIS, but a tiny minority do not. There is nothing here that is a huge surprise, but it has been a long time since we’ve had any hard data to back it up with. In terms of the way the poll was done, remember that the sampling did only cover areas with a comparatively high Muslim population. It’s not as crude as picking by local authority – taking LSOAs means it will include pockets of Muslims people across the country. It doesn’t cover the 49% of Muslims who live in areas that are less than 20% Muslim though, where I think it likely British Muslims are more integrated and have more in similar with their non-Muslim neighbours. Even if that does make a difference though, and views of other British Muslims are less distinct from the rest of British society, this poll should give us a good guide to the 50% of British Muslims who live in areas with a comparatively high Muslim population.

The full data is here.

148 Responses to “ICM poll of British Muslims”

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  1. CANDY
    “Allan Christie – “Muslims make up 5% of the UK population and asked about actually committing terrorist actions, 4% of British
    Muslims said they would sympathise. so 5% of 64 million = 3.2 million, 4% of 3.2 million = 128,000 wannabe terrorists.”

    “Sympathising does not mean being a terrorist.
    If it’s as low as 4%, they’re doing better than the Irish (have not yet met an Irish person who didn’t defend/rationalise all the IRA killings and claim justification based on events 150 years ago ”

    Okay I admit there is a flaw in my original remark but as I said in my response to MARK S I find it disturbing so many people actually sympathise with acts of terror.

    I would never compare the troubles in NI with the global threat of terrorism we are witnessing today. For a start some of the acts of terror being carried out in today’s Middle East can be traced back to over 1000 years ago and have a global reach. Today’s global terror threat can be found in most parts of the World, NI was confined to NI and the UK mainland.

    However I’ll take your word for it that “have not yet met an Irish person who didn’t defend/rationalise all the IRA killings and claim justification based on events 150 years ago ”

    I find that a real pity and where I would agree that there was a genuine grievance within the catholic community towards the British I would still however condemn acts of terror where innocent people are blown up.

    I also have a lot of sympathy for the way the Palestinians are being treated by Israel but attacking civilians with inaccurate rockets and pocket knives has to be condemned along with Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians.

  2. Mark W

    “My partner and I have never been insulted by anyone who appeared to be Muslim.

    What we do get from our Moslem neighbours is friendliness and shared food.”

    I’ve no doubt that this is true, but it’s not the whole truth, and there is a crucial point to be made.

    Muslims are not evil and unpleasant as individuals. But that does not mean that a majority Muslim population would not enact laws and restrictions on our freedoms that we would find intolerable.

    The problem with Muslims is not that they’re evil, it’s that they’re virtuous – but their definition of virtue is very different from ours. The absolute conviction that “Allah knows best” is completely at odds with our modern view that morality is an evolving thing – it represents a complete unshakable faith that the ideal society is contained in the Quran.

    Thus, the laws enacted by a hypothetical majority Islamic population would not be done to us out of spite, but from a belief that they doing what was best for us.

    Lest you think that this is unimportant because they are only 5% of the population, note that their growth rate – from immigration and a high birth rate – means that their population proportion and influence will increase – and very rapidly over the next few generations. The population overall is 5%, but among under 10s it’s around 10%.

    This suggests (very roughly) a doubling every generation, and anyone who has read the story of the chessboard and the grains of rice knows how fast exponential growth can be.

    The net result we should take from these polls – and from their growth statistics over the last 4 decades – is that we have a growing population in our midst who favour a much more strict society than we live in. Terrorism is a distraction from this fact.

  3. So based on this 4% of 5% stuff, can we claim that 31 million or so folk support bombing Syria?

    (down from 38 million)

    I think not.

  4. Thanks to Anthony for an explanation of the ICM methodology which I haven’t seen elsewhere[1] and the limitations on what it tells us[2]. The big mystery is why it is so out of date (f/w 25 Apr -31 May 2105)[3], and the control group is only slightly later (5-7 Jun). Clearly it was expensive to do, but the point about current affairs is that they are supposed to be current. It looks like the programme it was meant for was never made and this has been lashed up later.

    There’s a nice reminder of how you need to be careful about how well based peple’s beliefs are. Asked to estimate “Out of every 100 people living in Britain, how many do you think” belong to various religious groups:

    the Muslim sample gave the following average (mean)[4] answers:

    Muslim 29% (4.5%)

    Christian 63% (58.8%)

    Jewish 20% (0.4%)

    Buddhist 14% (0.4%)

    Hindu 21% (1.4%)

    (Actual GB figures in brackets from Wiki/2011 Censuses)

    And people say that Britain isn’t a religious country any more when 147% of the population apparently are.

    Irritatingly they didn’t ask the control group the same set of questions (presumably on the phone losing the will to live starts earlier), but they probably wouldn’t have been any better. A 2013 MORI sample estimated 24% of the population as Muslim, but only 34% as Christian.

    [1] One of the findings of the BES report was that pollsters needed to be much clearer and extensive about methodology, but I haven’t noticed much change yet.

    [2] There’s no denying that getting a poll of Muslims by conventional methods is difficult – only 2% of the comparison phone poll identified as Muslim.

    [3] There’s the extra problem that it included the election period and the control didn’t which might influence some questions.

    [4] Median would be the most useful measure here or at least should be shown additionally.

  5. New YG Full Scottish poll

    Constituency ballot :

    SNP 50% (+1)
    Labour 21% (+2)
    Conservatives 18% (-1)
    Liberal Democrats 5% (-1)
    Greens 3% (-1)
    UKIP 2% (-1)

    Regional list ballot :

    SNP 45% (+2)
    Labour 19% (+2)
    Conservatives 18% (-1)
    Greens 8% (n/c)
    Liberal Democrats 5% (n/c)
    UKIP 3% (-1)
    SSP 1% (n/c)

    Additionally, there are a series of questions about trust of Dugdale and Davidson.

    While less than half the respondents would trust either of them on anything, it’s notable that Tory voters trust Ruth more than Labour ones trust Kezia.

  6. MARK W
    I am gay and not shy about it. I live in Easton in Bristol, a place often referred to by idiots as a Moslem ghetto.
    My partner and I have never been insulted by anyone who appeared to be Muslim. We have experienced it from white people only, outside of our community.
    What we do get from our Moslem neighbours is friendliness and shared food.

    I’m straight and not shy about it, I’m also a die hard Liverpool and Celtic fan and have had many obscene comments flung at me at match days from other supporters…..all white males, I don’t hold a grievance towards the white community because of 90 minute bigots who for some reason think because of the football top I’m wearing makes me Irish and a pope lover.

  7. This long apologia can’t disguise that more than half think homosexuality should be criminalised. Mark W seems to be living in blissful ignorance.


    This poll from the Guardian makes interesting reading when taken along side the poll we are talking abot

  9. Scottish tables are here:

    I’m not really sure that the Kezia v Ruth questions tell us much in the face of indifference from over half the sample, but the media’s obsessions in Scotland seems increasing detached from what interests those actually in the country. To be fair Conservative Leaders always get better rating from their own supporters than Labour from theirs – irrespective of who the leaders are.

    Most of the other questions go on stereotypical Party images: Con better on policing, Lab on NHS and so on. But with over 60% not making a choice on most it means that the difference on most isn’t much and neither seem to be making much impact.

  10. @Jonboy

    We need to be careful before we talk about attitudes towards homosexuality. We need to remember that male homosexual acts were seen as criminal acts in the UK until the sixties Indeed if there had been a poll taken in the fifties about the attitude to homosexuality in the general population in the fifties I would guess that they would have been very hostile as well.

    If there were any polls back then and anybody has access to them it would be very interesting to see how different the opinions of the Muslim community today is from that of the UK as a whole fifty years ago.

  11. Roger Mexico

    “neither seem to be making much impact”

    While that’s true, there may be a longer term boost for the Tories, if they can do (as Scotland Votes suggests from this poll) and pip Lab for 2nd place.

    Not that there is any functional difference between 24 seats as opposed to Lab’s 23 – except getting to ask the first question at FMQs – but it would be spun as being important.

    Perhaps of more interest might be the race for 4th place. Scotland Votes puts Greens on 8 seats, with the Lib Dems dropping to 3.

    The more concentrated support does help Con and SLD at constituency level, but for the SLDs the fate of their Welsh colleagues seems a distinct possibility.

  12. More from Welsh poll


    Labour: 38% (+2)
    Conservatives: 22% (-3)
    UKIP: 18% (+2)
    Plaid Cymru: 13% (-1)
    Liberal Democrats: 6% (no change)
    Others: 4% (+1)

    EU referendum

    Remain: 38% (-3)
    Leave: 39% (+3)
    Don’t Know / Wouldn’t Vote: 23% (-1)

  13. Good Afternoon All, from a hot Bournemouth East.

    In the North of Ireland the lack of Universal Suffrage in the 1960’s led many into the ranks of PIRA sympathisers, with demonic effects.

    You are right about the legal status of homosexuality. The Wilson Government had to have back bench MP’s bringing in the laws which began to create a good society.

  14. One odd little thing on the Muslim attitude to homosexuality – there is very little difference between attitudes to legality (18 – 52) and attitudes to gay marriage (16 – 56). In the control group it was 73 – 11 and 66 – 20[1] respectively. It suggests liberalism is an all-or-nothing thing for Muslims or maybe that whether sex is inside marriage is also important.

    The sample is only tiny (20) but the Muslims in the control group split 10-4 in favour of legality and 8-4 for gay marriage. This might hint at either mode effects or the ICM main sample being skewed from the average views of all British Muslims. Maybe both – it could be that interviewed in person at home among your community, you might be unwilling to give a view seen as ‘unorthodox’ even though you felt different.

    [1] Of course ten years before the figures might well have been reversed. We need to remember that people views are not fixed and religious people may be no exception – in the control ‘any religion’ is 60 – 26 for gay marriage.

  15. I’m waiting for the ICM Poll of British Christians, just so we can have comparison.

  16. @ DAVEM

    As you said – 50 years ago!

  17. Valerie


    And, it should be similarly skewed towards London, as the Muslim poll is, since

    People in London are much more likely to be religious than elsewhere in Britain, new analysis published by NatCen Social Research reveals today.

    The findings from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey show that 67% of Londoners consider themselves to belong to a religion, compared to just 48% in the rest of Britain. While the proportion of people who say they have no religion has increased by 63% since 1983, the figure has remained relatively stable in London.

    There is a similar proportion of Christians in London and in the rest of the country, but the picture is different when it comes to non-Christian religions. Only 4% of people outside of London consider themselves to belong to a non-Christian religion, whereas in London that proportion is 31%.

    The research also found striking differences in religious participation. Since 2001, the proportion of Londoners (who either had a religion or were brought up in a religion) who said they attended religious services at least once a week has dramatically increased. Meanwhile, regular religious participation in the rest of the country has remained stable.

    Ian Simpson, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research said: “People in London are much more likely to be religious than people living elsewhere in Britain. This difference is driven by the much larger proportion of people who belong to non-Christian religions in the capital, compared with the rest of Britain. But not only are Londoners more likely to belong to a religion, they’re also much more likely to actively participate in that religion. This is partly because those with a non-Christian religion are more likely to attend services connected with their religion than Christians are. However, Christians who live in London are also more likely to attend religious services than Christians who live in the rest of Britain”. (NatCen)

  18. The link isn’t working. There is an extra 2 at the end/


    On your reasoning 1% of the British are wanabee terrorist. So 640,000! 6x more british want to be terrorist than muslims.

    But that’s not true, you can’t extrapolate data like that….

  19. @jonboy

    YEs only 50 tears ago, with in my life time

    You only have to go back to the late 80’s to remember that section 28 banned any material which promoted a homosexual life style as being “normal” from use in schools!

    Attitudes change but not as quick as many of us would like but they do change.

    On that basis I would expect that there will be a change in attitudes with in the Muslim community over time. What would be interesting would be to see if there are any differences based on age or length of residence by the head of the household in the UK, ie first second third generation. I have not looked at the full figures so that data might be there. If it is and you have the time to look it up post it on here.

    Going back to the section 28 days, I remember being told I could not use a song by Roy Baily called Old Joe as the basis of my form groups assembly as it was about discrimination against a gay man. That was in 1990! It would have been a disciplinary offence!

  20. Methodology …

    Who decided who is Muslim? Many would not consider several sects (in absence of a better word), like the Ahmadi Muslim (but there are many others, just the Glasgow murder, and the leaflet in London highlighted it).

    I also suspect that these beliefs are heavily influenced by ethnicity within the given religious belief (it would certainly be the case in Indonesian Muslims). Also education (among, for example, Pakistani Muslims ).

    Probably the distribution of Saudi and UAE funding to different mosques by regions, cities and towns in the UK would have an influence (unfortunately).

  21. OldNat

    It’s perfectly possible that in the Great Wen the attraction of the “heart of a heartless world” is increased. But as usually you (and NatCen) need to be careful about sample sizes. The London figures for 2014 were based on a sample of only 267:

    “with a religion, or who were brought up in a religion” of whom half didn’t even go twice a year. And as far as I can tell from those figures the difference between London and outside is entirely due to non-Christian religions.

  22. Hmmmmm,

    If we accept the concept of ‘shy Tories’, then I think we have to accept the concept of ‘shy terrorism supporters’, don’t we?

  23. Several mentioning Northern Ireland’s support for violence and terror.

    Please provide the link to the polling you are quoting from, I cannot see any.

  24. @davem

    1967 in E&W but 1980 and 1981 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Also worth remembering that the Catholic Church teaches that people like me and MarkW are objectively disordered! So intolerance of gay people is more widespread in religious sects of all descriptions than we might like to believe.

    “Several mentioning Northern Ireland’s support for violence and terror.”

    Ridiculous assertions from know-nothings, I’m afraid. People talking out of their hats. Would have expected better from comments on a *polling* site, but… one lives and learns.

  26. Roger Mexico

    Yep. I didn’t look up the details of the NatCen report, though I have now.

    Interesting variation between the NatCen opening question –
    “All respondents were asked: Which religion or denomination do you consider yourself as belonging to?”

    as opposed to the ScotCen one –

    “All respondents were asked: Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?”

    The assumptions lying behind the question are clearly very different, and might encourage people to respond in different ways.

    Yet the same proportion of Scots and Brits (52%) say they have “No religion” than Brits, so it could just be that Londoners are more conformist to perceived expectations from authority figures like researchers. than in the more democratic parts of GB :-)

  27. Hireton

    I’ve always assumed [1] that the failure to extend the 1967 Act to Scotland was opposition from our “Governor-General” at the time – Willie Ross as SoS.

    Andrew Marr once described him as “a stern-faced and authoritarian Presbyterian conservative who ran the country like a personal fiefdom”.

    [1] I don’t know whether that assumption is correct, however.

  28. Re Northern Ireland support for terrorism I also cannot find any opinion polls as to support for terrorism but in the 1983 Sinn Fein, the Political wing of the IRA, got 13.4% of the vote.

    Let’s not forget the IRA and other Northern Ireland terrorist organisations were much better at killing people, including many innocents, than Islamic terrorists are in the UK. Over the thirty years of the ‘troubles’ around 3,000 were killed, the last 15 years of Islamic terrorism in the UK have killed less than 60. Every death is a tragedy, and those carrying out these murders need to be condemned, but for the people who died it made it no better for them to be murdered by Irish terrorists or Islamic ones.

  29. Anthony

    In the data tables for the Scottish poll, “SSP” was listed earlier today, but has now been replaced by “RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance”.

    Not that it greatly matters, but which of these labels was offered to the panel members?

  30. AC

    Good to see another LFC supporter on here!


  31. ANON

    “On your reasoning 1% of the British are wanabee terrorist. So 640,000! 6x more british want to be terrorist than muslims.
    But that’s not true, you can’t extrapolate data like that”

    I’ve already addressed my comment to a couple of other posters and I don’t have a problem when proved wrong and on UKPR I’m probably the first to admit or compromise on something I’ve said although my original thought hasn’t and wont be changed and that it..I find 1% of those polled and 4% of Muslims sympathising (fully or partially) with terrorists quite alarming.

    Good to see another LFC supporter on here!

    Cmon The Reds :-) :-)

  33. Anthony

    Saw your chat on Twitter re RISE labelling. Ta.

  34. AC
    “Good to see another LFC supporter on here!”

    I’m a Liverpool supporter. :)

  35. I haven’t had a change to look at the ICM Muslim poll data yet, but I’m a whole lot less interested than I might have been knowing that different methods were used for the control and Muslim samples. I think that’s particularly problematic in the context of questions where there’s likely to be a strong social desirability bias in the responses – and that’s a lot of the questions in this survey. Social desirability bias seems to be higher in F2F contexts, but I can see why ICM opted for this, but did they use Muslim interviewers – which might have reduced the effect (easier to admit to a social undesirable opinion to someone you think might share it or understand it).

    I’m not particularly interested in the numbers who expressed a degree of sympathy for threats or acts of terrorism. But I do think it’s noteworthy that a higher proportion of the Muslim sample refused to condemn them. This is one instance where social desirability bias is likely to have been important. Hard to say you sympathise with acts of terrorism, much easier to refuse to condemn them.

    The evidence of misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism is hard to swallow, but perhaps – much as others have said – the appropriate comparison group is practising Christians rather than the general population?

    Wording makes a big difference with questions about support/sympathy for terrorism/violent resistance. Allan C quotes a question which asked about ‘suicide bombing to fight injustice’. Built into the question is the assumption that we’re dealing with genuine ‘injustice’ not an irrational political or religious grievance. In effect respondents are being asked whether resorting to various forms of violence in the face of injustice can ever be condoned. Of course some people would say no, never, no matter what the scale of the injustice. But plenty of people who condemn particular acts they regard as terrorism precisely because they don’t construe them as motivated by a desire for ‘justice’ (IRA bombs, ISIS bombs, Taliban IUDs) might consider the violence of the French Resistance entirely justified, or the violence of Umkhonto we Siswe (have I spelt that correctly?) because in those cases they don’t see an effective alternative or because the injustice is so great and/or so enduring.

    In practice this probably isn’t how the question was interpreted, but I’m a dreadful pedant and very particular when it comes to use of language.

    But what were they really trying to find out? Whether Muslims are more likely than Brits in general to accept the use of various forms of violent resistance? Or whether Muslims have a different view of what constitutes serious injustice?

    And whilst I can see the justification for the compromises which meant that this poll was, in effect, only based on half the population, I think that health warning needs much more prominence. I’d be furious if someone published a poll of Brits based solely on women, because all the men were out at work when the pollsters called and it was too expensive to pay the pollsters overtime to call round when the men were home.

  36. @democracy @ ac
    Us LFC supporters are taking over.
    In fact at least 75% of UKPR posters are LFC fans.
    Based on the last 4 posters.
    Small sample size admittedly.

    “Small sample size admittedly.”

    That rarely stops people from leaping to conclusions, especially ones they already favour. That’s what’s worrying about all this chatter about how Muslims are bad.

    My wife said she saw a copy of the Metro, and it carried a stat about “25%” of Muslims not condemning extremist violence. That would appear to be based on this same survey. And that same survey says it’s 26% of non-Muslims didn’t condemn. But that wasn’t discussed at all. The entire thrust of that stat would appear to be saying Muslims are bad when others are equally bad (perhaps slightly worse).

    We live in a time of overt prejudice peddled in newspapers. It is frightening.

  38. In a previous role I was involved in a professional capacity in a series of studies into the social attitudes and attributes of the Britain’s Muslim population over a period of about 6 years in the ‘noughties’. My role was commissioning and interpreting the results for government, rather than actually carrying out the fieldwork, but there are a number of matters I think are quite interesting in this work in the light of what we found:

    + AW’s comments are, as ever, excellent, and the point he makes about the survey reflecting the views of Muslims living in areas with an Islamic population of 20%+ is very important.

    + Take London for example, for around 40% of England’s Muslim population and well over a third of the UK’s lives there. A cursory glance at a distributional map will show you that the Muslim population is spread across large swathes of the North, Inner Eastern, North Western and to a lesser extent South Western parts of the city. But it is only in relatively few areas that these concentrations exceed 20% of overall local population. Where this is the case, certain nationality and heritage groups – mainly Sylheti speakers, and others of Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds predominate. These communities are characterised by rigid community and familial structures, conservative social attitudes and, as noted by others, lower levels of social and cultural integration than seen elsewhere among wider Muslim society. Any survey that focuses on these areas in exclusivity is, based on the comparative work we carried out over a decade ago, likely to overstate certain – generally religiously conservative – views and opinions within the Muslim community and exclude diverse Islamic groups such as members of the Iranian and Lebanese diasporas, those of North African and Indian decent.

    + There’s also a flaw in wording, the survey asks people about their desire to lead or keep a ‘separate Islamic life’ alongside their British identity and then uses this as a proxy for wishing to live apart from British society. We found that actually this exact terminology meant something quite different to the participants and represented a means of keeping their spiritual and secular lives separate whilst reconciling the two – quite the opposite of wishing to segregate themselves.

    + Notwithstanding these problems, there is much in this survey that is surprising in a positive way compared to the work of over a decade ago. The significant numbers of Muslims even in these highly concentrated areas who mix socially on a regular basis with people outside their faith (outside of their home) is a marked change. It is also clear than younger Muslims are mixing more than their parents and grandparents with well over 80% meeting people outside their immediate religious peers at least weekly and 94% at least monthly.

    + Indeed this trend towards increased integration and social liberalism is not something that could have been assumed in the 2000s, when it appeared that the community was becoming more conservative in its attitudes with successive generations. Yet there it is – 18-24 year olds are significantly more tolerant of homosexuality and gay marriage (go look at the figures they are remarkably striking), believe in the right to choose their partners and are far less inclined to segregated education.

    + That said, there are a confusing results in relation to what might broadly be described as ‘women’s rights’. Younger people are more in favour of the niqab, much more in favour of Sharia law (especially than their grandparents who presumably lived under it) and are almost as conservative on matters of female obedience. We can only speculate as to where these apparently contradictory results come from – happier about gay marriage, but more in favour of Sharia – but there seems to be something working against the general movement towards the kind social integration with wider societal norms. A clue might lie in the very high numbers of young people who regard the Mosque as the establishment that best represents their views – in the mid 70s% this is almost identical to their grandparents.

    + There is a huge amount else here that makes interrogating the endless tables worthwhile. The levels of anti-semitism as expressed via the usual tropes of ‘Jews control the world’ etc would be shocking were they not – sadly – so terribly consistent with all the surveys of this kind carried out. That around 25-40% of the Muslim population harbours these kind of deep-seated attitudes is almost without doubt. Indeed the figures may be higher given the significant DKs. Just as shocking is that 55% of those survey simply expressed that they didn’t know how many Jews died in the holocaust even when given a range of options. Worst of all these views are not declining across the generations and are shared by young and old alike.

    + Likewise, the thorny issue of terrorist ‘sympathies’ – which are also equally held across generations. It seems to me, however, that if we want to discover how many British Muslims support terrorists and terrorist activities we should ask them directly. The use of the term ‘sympathise’ is highly ambiguous and does not – in my view – serve any legitimate survey use. If one came from a closely knit community in which young men were ‘brain-washed’ ‘persuaded’ or ‘seduced’ (words used by family members in recent cases) into going off and fighting ‘holy wars’ by ‘highly skilled Islamist propagandists’ one might feel ‘sympathy’ for the corrupted person, their family and the victims – indeed this would be entirely consistent with the teachings of all the Abrahamic faiths. To introduce this quality of mercy into the questioning seems erroneous – do people support the actions is more direct and what matters.

    All in all – for all the limitations and mis-steps – this study provides a complex and fascinating picture of one of the most discussed communities that make up British society. However, it clearly does not support some of the strange claims being made by certain commentators on this site and in the media.

  39. @ Colin

    “@”Hopefully something that will disappear down the generations.”
    That would be a reasonable hope if one didn’t know that homegrown Islamist radicals tend to be young people.
    There are many complex issue-the influence of “cultural” norms as well as religious teaching. The connection between criminality & radical islamist activity. The relationships & conflicts between an older generation cocooned by MultiCulturalist segragation…”

    Except the data doesn’t actually support the supposition that young muslims are becoming more socially conservative or that there is either a desire or a tendency towards increased segregation.


    More than four times as many 18-24 year old Muslims agree that it is okay for a homosexual to work as a teacher as do over 65s and in the 18-24 age group more believe it is okay than not okay 40 vs 37%.

    88% of 18-24 year olds mixed socially with people from non-Muslim backgrounds within the last week (67% of these daily) compared to 61% of the over 65s.

    Finally, consistently across all Muslims more favour greater integration in their lives than less and this actually seems to increase in those communities which have the highest Muslim concentrations.

    Would’t it be more realistic to observe that those engaged in violent actions (from brawling to terrorism to warfare) tend to be young and male.

  40. @ Sorbus

    “The evidence of misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism is hard to swallow, but perhaps – much as others have said – the appropriate comparison group is practising Christians rather than the general population?”

    A very good point – a better point of comparison in our increasingly irreligious society is another religious group.

    This article on Roman Catholic attitudes to homosexuality in Britain is very interesting

    It show that in just over 30 years members of that faith have cone from a position where 74% though homosexuality was morally wrong to one where 65% think broadly the opposite.

  41. Good evening all from rural Hampshire.

    “Good to see another LFC supporter on here!”
    I’m a Liverpool supporter. :)

    @democracy @ ac
    Us LFC supporters are taking over.
    In fact at least 75% of UKPR posters are LFC fans.
    Based on the last 4 posters.
    Small sample size admittedly

    It may be a small sample but quite significant :-)


  42. To take any racism or religious hatred out of it, let’s try my` old ‘blue hat’ analogy.

    Let’s say that 5% of the population wear blue hats, and 95% red. And that a very small number of the blue hats have in the past killed large numbers of innocent people, and other blues sympathise with that approach.

    It’s then surely not unreasonable for the red hats to be a bit wary of the blue hats.

  43. Something I’ve noticed having spent my entire life living in the UK. Half in England and half in Scotland and that is society appears to be far more tolerant when it comes to anti Scottish stuff from the English and anti English from the Scottish yet when people have an opinion on Muslim attitudes within the UK or on immigration, out they come from under the highbrow rocks, yes it’s them again the political correct brigade wagging their fingers and telling you your concerns are unfounded and somehow everything is one big bad myth.

    The reality is people do have concerns in this country regarding radicalisation within the Muslim communities and simply shouting down people doesn’t make it go away.

  44. PETE B

    I follow your logic but as a Red I’m always afraid of the blues. ;-)

  45. @Allan C

    Is everyone saying your concerns are unfounded or are you hyping it in a partisan way?

    Also, were you raised in Liverpool or are you a glory hunter?


    “@Allan C
    Is everyone saying your concerns are unfounded or are you hyping it in a partisan way?”

    I’m not on about my own concerns or what a couple of individuals have said on UKPR as I have already addressed that.


    @”Except the data doesn’t actually support the supposition that young muslims are becoming more socially conservative or that there is either a desire or a tendency towards increased segregation.”

    I didn’t sat that it does.

    I suggested that SHEVII’s hope that ““52% disagreed that homosexuality should be legal, 39% said wives should always obey their husbands.” would “disappear down the generations!” might be in vain since the ranks of radicalised Muslims appears to contain mostly young people.
    Before you ask me what the connection is between the attitudes mentioned by SHEVII & Islamism, I offer the pretty universal condemnation of “western values” by these young men.

    @”Would’t it be more realistic to observe that those engaged in violent actions (from brawling to terrorism to warfare) tend to be young and male.”

    I don’t know-superficially one would expect so.

    But there is a qualitative difference between the “violence” involved in “brawling” , and that involved in the murder of innocent civilians, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Athest because they don’t believe what murderer believes.

  48. @ Allan Christie

    “The reality is people do have concerns in this country regarding radicalisation within the Muslim communities and simply shouting down people doesn’t make it go away.”

    Who’s shouting?

    People are undoubtedly concerned about radicalisation, with good reason given recent events.

    However. insofar as this data demonstrates anything, it seems to show that radicalisation is not symptomatic of an increasing trend towards illiberal attitudes or ‘isolationist’ tendencies within the British Muslim community.

    Rather it indicates that there are some signs of opinion – amongst younger Muslims at least – on certain social issues moving nearer ‘mainstream’ views. Moreover, there is and increasing amount of social contact between Muslims and other communities and a desire for more – not less – integration.

    These facts allow a greater focus on where there are significant and ongoing differences – especially around antisemitism, attitudes to women’s role in society and provide an opportunity to carry out more aligned research into the true causes and nature of radicalisation in that minority of a minority where it is happening.

  49. I missed that part….
    “Also, were you raised in Liverpool or are you a glory hunter?”

    Well the last time Liverpool won the league I would have been in my mothers womb waiting to cheer them on so I think the glory days were just before my time supporting The Reds.

    I grew up in Wokingham and all my mates were into cricket, I was having none of it.


    “Who’s shouting?”

    If you had bothered to copy and pate the rest of my comment rather (as others have done) than simply carefully sect part of it then you would know I was on about the political correct brigade and that iconic megaphone diplomacy that comes with it,

    Anyway the rest of your comment…Yes there are large parts of it that I agree with.

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