The major political agenda in Britain is that Muslims simply “have to” integrate; popular opinion is that Muslims “can’t” integrate; the media narrative is that Muslims “don’t want to” integrate. The recent BBC2 reality documentary ‘Muslims like us’ spoke into this conversation. What is the truth about Muslim attitudes to integrating in the West?
The reality TV show Muslims like us invited ten Muslims – with markedly differing views on the practise of Islam – to share a house for two weeks. The programme was criticized by Muslim viewers on Twitter who felt it trivialised Islam and that those taking part were looking for ‘an hour of fame’. On the other hand the Muslim Council of Britain praised the show, saying it ‘goes some way to dispel the myth that Muslims are any different to everyday people’. (1)
A recent government survey conducted by Kaya Burgess provides the latest statistics on what Muslims actually think. (2)
- According to the 2011 census there are 2.7 million people who identify as “Muslim” in Britain. This is 4.8% of the population.
- According to the most extensive survey ever carried out in Britain (i.e. by ICM and Policy Exchange, a right of centre think tank) 53% (i.e. more than half) said they want to fully integrate into British society and that they broadly share the views of the wider population.
- 93% feel a fair to strong attachment to Britain and identify the NHS, unemployment and immigration as the crunch issues facing Britain.
- 90% condemn terrorist acts and 2% expressed sympathy; this compares with 84% against and 4% sympathy among indigenous Britons.
- 35% felt that ‘moderate’ views among Muslims were drowned out by minority radical views.
- British Muslims are more likely than the general population to condemn terrorism, yet more likely to entertain conspiracy theories about 9/11; 31% blaming the US government and 7% blaming Jewish concerns and 4% blaming Al-Qaeda; and 52% undecided.
- 6% expressed support for Muslims to lead a separate Islamic way of life where possible and 1% were in favour of a fully separate Islamic zones within Britain.
- The research also found support for liberalising measures such as giving women more say and government funding for community-based programmes.
- Khalid Mahmoud MP for Birmingham Perry Barr says Muslims are among Britain’s most loyal, law-abiding and patriotic citizens; ‘In an era in which intolerance and bigotry pose a growing challenge to our society, it cannot be stressed enough that most British Muslims want to integrate with their non-British neighbours…In terms of their everyday concerns and priorities, British Muslims answer no differently from their non-Muslim neighbours.’
- The research concluded that British Muslims are a variety of communities, so the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) cannot hope to represent them all.
1. The Daily Express
2. ‘Most Muslims want full integration with British way of life’, Kaya Burgess, The Times, 2 Dec 2016