Muslim Survey – Populus for Policy Exchange

Living Apart Together – British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism

Policy Exchange, an independent think tank, published “Living Apart Together – British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism” at the beginning of 2007. It is a 100 page report including the results of a survey of 1003 Muslims conducted by Populus. A summary of some of the survey results is given below.

They show that something like a quarter or a third of British Muslims hold beliefs that are completely at odds with western Christian and Enlightenment secular values and British culture in particular. These proportions are even higher amongst younger Muslims in the age range 16-34 years.

Q. “I feel more in common with Muslims in other countries than I do with non-Muslims in Britain”

% of Muslims who agree or disagree
Agree Disagree Don’t know
31 59 11

Q. “Younger people living in my area are more religious today than ten years ago”

% of Muslims who agree or disagree
Agree Disagree Don’t know
48 42 10

Q. “Wearing the veil”

Regarding wearing the veil – % of Muslims who say:
I prefer that Muslim women choose to wear the veil I prefer that Muslim women choose not to wear the veil Don’t know
53 28 19

Q. “If I could choose, I would prefer to live in Britain under sharia law rather than British law”

Living under Sharia – % of Muslims who say:
Prefer sharia law Prefer British law Don’t Know
28 59 13

The preference for Sharia law goes up to 37% and 32% for the age groups 16-24 and 25-24 respectively

Q. “The following is a list of laws that are defined in most scholarly interpretations of sharia law. Please say if you personally agree or disagree with the law mentioned”

% of Muslims who agree or disagree with statement
  Agree Disagree Don’t Know
A Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim 51 43 5
A Muslim woman cannot marry without the consent of her guardian 43 51 5
A Muslim male have up to four wives 46 48 6
Muslim conversion is forbidden and punishable by death 31 57 12
Homosexuality is wrong and should be illegal 61 30 9

The view that Muslim conversion is forbidden and punishable by death goes up to 36% and 37% for the age groups 16-24 and 25-24 respectively

Q. “Some Islamic scholars have called for a major reinterpretation of sharia law to reflect modern ideas about human rights, equality for women and tolerance of religious conversion. Other Islamic scholars disagree with this view and say that sharia law is absolute and should not be interpreted to fit in with western values. Which of these is closest to your opinion?”

Intepret Sharia for Western values – % of Muslims who say:
Should be interpreted Should NOT be interpreted Don’t Know
45 39 16

The view that Sharia NOT be interpreted goes up to 42% and 44% for the age groups 16-24 and 25-24 respectively

In the above tables “Don’t know” includes those who refused to answer

The opening part of Policy Exchange’s Executive Summary says:

“This report explores the attitudes of Muslims in Britain today and the reasons why there has been a significant rise in Islamic fundamentalism amongst the younger generation. It argues that the growth of Islamism in the UK is not solely a foreign problem, but something that must be understood in relation to political and social trends that have emerged in British society over the past two decades.

It also examines the impact of public policy on the Muslim population and suggests that the way the Government is responding to Islamism is making things worse not better.

Our research into the attitudes of Muslims in Britain showed that there is a growing religiosity amongst the younger generation of Muslims. They feel that they have less in common with non-Muslims than do their parents and they show a stronger preference for Islamic schools and sharia law.

Religiosity amongst younger Muslims is not about following their parents’ cultural traditions, but rather, their interest in religion is more politicised. There is a greater stress on asserting one’s identity in the public space, for example, by wearing the hijab.”

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