The new Gallup Coexist Foundation poll out today on Muslim integration shows the huge gulf of understanding that exists in the UK between Muslims and non-Muslims. This seems to have little to do with religiosity, however, and to be more culturally based. Read our news report here.
‘Mutual respect’ is what the report called for, it says, but makes no recommendations on addressing, for example, the apparently universal abhorrence for homosexuality among British Muslims in particular.
But more worrying is where it reveals the extent to which Britain’s Muslims are not ‘thriving’.
In overall charge of this poll is Dalia Mogahed, pictured above, who heads Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies and its unprecedented survey of more than one billion Muslims worldwide. This is one impressive woman, who recently made history by being appointed the first Muslim woman in the administration of President Barack Obama. Watch a video of an interview with her below, where she reports how complex the situation is. Muslims have ‘nuanced’ views of the West, she says, and have much more negative views of Britain and the US than, say, France and Germany. It is not religion that drives them, she says, but their own individual cultural context.
Today’s survey reports: ‘French Muslims are half as likely as the general public to be considered thriving, and in the United Kingdom, Muslims are eight times less likely than the British population as a whole to fall under the thriving category. Interestingly, German Muslims (46 per cent ) are more likely than the German public (36 per cent) to be classified as thriving.’
British Muslims are among the most conservative in Europe on a whole raft of moral issues, the report reveals.
It says: ‘The French public is more likely than any other population polled to view homosexuality (78 per cent) as morally acceptable. As points of comparison, 68 per cent of Germans and 58 per cent of Britons believe homosexuality is morally acceptable. Among European Muslim populations surveyed, the acceptability of homosexuality is highest among French Muslims (35 per cent ) and lowest among British Muslims (0 per cent). On the issue of abortion, the French (78 per cent) are also far more likely than Britons (55 per cent) and Germans (47 per cent) to say that it is morally acceptable. French Muslims (35 per cent) are the most likely among the Muslim populations.’ surveyed to believe abortion is morally acceptable.’
Of course, anti-gay sentiment it isn’t really universal among British Muslims, in spite of what the poll says.
Duncan Brown reports from this morning’s press conference:
‘Mohamed Younis, a Senior Analyst at Gallup, stressed that it was important not to consider the West and Islam as two “monolithic” entities struggling against each other. Comparing the UK, France and Germany, he said, their values frequently differed almost as much as those countries’ own Muslim populations. “The story is much more complex than ‘They all agree amongst themselves but they don’t agree with each other’", he said.
Gallup also assessed quality of life as part of its research. France has just over a fifth of its Muslims in the best category, "thriving", but Britain has fewer than one in ten, with the majority classed as "struggling". However, Mr Younis stressed that "integration" should be defined as "working together, not being alike" did not necessarily involve "moral questions" or standards of well-being. French Muslims have less confidence than their country’s public in the judicial system, banks, and the honesty of elections.
Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies, attributed some of the disparity to France’s emphasis on conformity, "in appearance and in a certain value system", amongst its Muslim population."The French model of forced conformity is not having the desired effect", said Ms Mogahed. "The British model allowing religious diversity and public appearance of difference has produced a strong British identity in British Muslims." The majority of Muslims and non-Muslims in Britiain, France and Germany said they would like to live in an area with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Gallup conducted the research last year, interviewing a thousand randomly-selected people and five hundred Muslims in three countries.
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