Half of Britons think Islam is a threat to the West, according to 'worrying' new study

Anthony Pearce
Muslims gather in Hyde Park to mark Arbaeen

More than 40 per cent of Britons say that recent terror attacks have made them more suspicious of Muslims, according to a wide-ranging study into attitudes surrounding race and religion in Britain.

Hope not Hate, the advocacy group that campaigns to “counter racism and fascism”, revealed that 52 per cent of people think that Islam is a threat to the West in its annual Fear and Hope report.

It said that, since 2011, it has tracked a shift in public anxiety from race and racism to Islamophobia and religious discrimination.

It noted that, while attitudes towards Muslims improved between 2011 and February 2016, recent attacks — such as the Manchester Arena bombing  — have seen anxieties about Islam return to levels of six years ago.

Most people (76 per cent) agree that Muslim communities need to do more in response to the threat of Islamic extremism, while 50 per cent feel that most Muslims have integrated well into British society.

According to the report, the population as a whole is likely to overestimate the proportion of Muslims in Britain.

It found that 39 per cent of people overemphasise the prevalence of Islam in British society, while just 13 per cent estimate the correct 5 per cent.

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Overall, 57 per cent of people disagree that Muslims in Britain should be associated with violence and terrorism, but the rate of people agreeing that Islam is a dangerous religion has increased since 2011.

Most people (77 per cent; down from 76 per cent in February 2016) agree that it is wrong to blame an entire religion for the actions of a few extremists, while 57 per cent of people believe discrimination is a serious problem for Muslims in Britain.

Hope not Hate said that “the picture of attitudes towards Muslims in Britain is worrying.”

It added: “The most recent spate of terror attacks in the UK has clearly impacted attitudes toward Muslims which divide the country.

“But there is clearly an appetite across the spectrum of identity politics for initiatives to improve community relations and for an increased understanding of Muslim practices in receiving communities.”

“As Britain unravels itself from the European Union our poll shows that we are a country that is deeply polarised and uncertain of its future,” it said.

“While attitudes to immigration have continued to moderate, albeit perhaps temporarily, the fear of Muslims and hostility to Islam is hardening amongst many.”

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