Politics, Government & Current Affairs British Muslims, London, UK

British Muslims: Is the divide increasing?

The latest polling by Survation. on behalf of Sky News polled 2,002 GB residents about their views on Islamic integration within the UK, and specifically on Muslim radicalisation in relation to fighting in Syria. The poll asked the views of 1,001 Muslims and 1,001 non-Muslims, and paints an informative picture of relations within the UK.

NB: all statistics given exclude “don’t know” responses to the questions. For almost all questions, non-Muslim respondents were significantly more likely to respond with “don’t know”. Full breakdowns of responses, including “don’t know” responses and demographic breaks can be found in the tables, available for Muslim respondents here and non-Muslim respondents here

One of the strongest agreements between the Muslim and non-Muslim groups was the importance of British Muslims integrating into British society. Only 6% of Muslims and 7% of non-Muslims identified with the statement “It is not important for British Muslims to integrate into British society”. However, the extent to which this is felt to be occurring differs greatly between the two groups. 71% of Muslim respondents think that British Muslims are doing enough to integrate into British society, but an almost equivalent number of non-Muslims (70%) think that British Muslims are not doing enough to integrate.
Which of the following statements is closest to your view?

However, integration may be increasingly difficult. 44% of non-Muslim respondents said they had become more suspicious of Muslims in the last few years, with only 5% saying they had become less suspicious. And this suspicion is being felt. 34% of Muslim respondents said they receive more suspicion from non-Muslims than a few years ago, and only 6% say they feel less.
This suspicion may not be helped by a widespread view that Islamic values are at odds with British values. Whilst over four in five Muslims believe that “generally speaking, the values of British society are compatible with the values of Islam”, only 30% of non-Muslim respondents agreed.

A greater point of unity between the groups came on topics relating to radicalisation. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are widely critical of young Muslims leaving to fight in Syria. 69% of Muslims and 85% of non-Muslims said they had no sympathy for young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria. There is also broad agreement on who has responsibility for stopping young Muslims from leaving to fight. Both Muslims and non-Muslims said that the families of those who might leave have the most responsibility (44% of Muslims and 65% of non-Muslims gave this response).
Which of the following groups do you think has the most responsibility for stopping young Muslims from leaving the UK to fight in Syria?
NB: This question was only asked to those who had “no sympathy” for those leaving the UK to fight in Syria.
*”Other” statements were primarily “all of the above” or “combination of above factors” statements. Roughly one-fifth of the “other” statements gave specific alternative responses. To see a list of responses click Verbatims.

Despite very few feeling the police were primarily responsible for stopping young Muslims joining the fighting, many held them partly responsible for the radicalisation. 58% of Muslims and 24% of non-Muslims believe that the actions of the police and MI5 are contributing to the radicalisation of young Muslims.

On the final question of responsibility (of a different kind) responses were again roughly concurrent. 57% of Muslims and 80% of non-Muslims feel it is the responsibility of Muslims to condemn terrorist attacks in the name of Islam.

A Closer Future?
It’s often said that today’s children are tomorrow’s future, and if we look to the younger generation we may see a future with more understanding and closer relationships. Among non-Muslim respondents all responses vary substantially by age bracket, with the youngest bracket (18-34 year olds) often having views more closely aligned with, and sympathetic to, the Muslim respondents. For example, 38% of 18-34 year old non-Muslims feel that British Muslims are doing enough to integrate into British Society, more than twice the rate of those aged 55 and over (just 16% agree).
Summary of Responses including age break

To see the full tables, including “don’t know” responses and demographic breaks for Muslim respondents click here and for non-Muslim respondents click here

Sample size: 1,001 Muslims and 1,001 non-Muslims

Fieldwork dates: 10th-20th April 2015

Method: GB adults, Muslim sample was interviewed by telephone and non-Muslim sample was collected via online panel

Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Lucy Makinson

Lucy Makinson


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