British, Muslim and Loyal: MCB Welcomes Poll Finding British Muslims at Home in the UK and Amongst Fellow Citizens

07 May 2009

The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed the findings of an ongoing poll conducted by Gallup and the Coexist Foundation showing that Muslims in the United Kingdom feel more loyalty towards the country in which they live than the general public believes they do. The poll reveals a triumph of fact over opinion – it challenges the idea that Muslims have divided loyalties, are separatist and, because of their faith and religiosity, have nothing in common with fellow Britons.

The poll charts the attitudes of British Muslims and the wider public, showing that 82% of British Muslims are loyal to this country. It highlights the many indicators of belonging that Muslims have towards this country including the need to master the English language, having a job, and getting a better education. 89% of British Muslims feel it is necessary to learn the English language, whilst 84% express the need to celebrate national holidays. These attitudes, the survey reveals, are prevalent amongst those who feel that religion is also important to their lives.

76 % of British Muslims said they had confidence in our country’s Judicial system and courts, thus negating those doomsayers who say Muslims want some sort of undefined ‘Shariah state’. On the issue of terrorism, 89% agreed that attacks in which civilians are targeted could not be morally justified at all.

British Muslims are more likely than all populations surveyed to identify strongly with their nation, and to express stronger confidence in its democratic institutions while maintaining a high degree of religious identity. This suggests that strong religious identities do not prevent strong national identities, nor do they correlate with a rejection of national institutions.

Commending the study, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: `I hope the findings of this poll will bring about a qualitative contribution to the discussion on British Muslims. For too long, we have been subject to cynical opinion masquerading as fact. British Muslims are very much part of this nation’s cultural, social and economic fabric. But naysayers will want to tell you otherwise, and will wish to drive a wedge between fellow Britons. We must all collectively challenge their received wisdom.’

He added `While we commend this poll, we must also be wary of the challenges it poses to all of us. 82% of British Muslims feel that they are loyal to this country, but 49% of the British public feel we are not. But at the same time, many of our fellow Britons have an admirable ‘live-and-let-live’ attitude to those who are different, and many feel – unlike those on the continent – that religious symbols including the headscarf enrich our national culture.’

`British Muslims must redouble their effort and take part in the national conversation to challenge attitudes. Otherwise we will continue to witness a polarization of attitudes that facilitate acts of violence as witnessed earlier this week against a mosque in Luton. It also aids the rise of the far-right who, for the first time, might get a seat in the European Parliament in June on the back of visceral Islamophobia.’

`Within the community, we must also highlight the economic challenges we face. The MCB has always and will continue to make the case that overcoming our socio-economic problems can help us further towards the pat of integration.’

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NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Muslim Council of Britain is an umbrella body of some 500 mosques, Islamic associations and charities
2. The Poll is part of The Gallup Coexist Index 2009: A Global Study of Interfaith Relations. Further details can be found at: http://www.muslimwestfacts.com/mwf/118249/Gallup-Coexist-Index-2009.aspx

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