IN JULY last year, UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on how his country must work together to defeat Islamic extremism and violent ideology.
He stressed the importance of encouraging moderate Muslim voices, saying that extremist ideology is not true Islam, even though extremists identify as Muslims.
“I believe we can win the struggle of our generation by standing up and promoting our shared British values,” he said. “Taking on extremism in all its forms, empowering those moderate and reforming voices who speak for the vast majority of Muslims that want to reclaim their religion.”
But survey results from a new documentary called What British Muslims Really Think suggest that extremist thought among British Muslims is more pervasive than some politicians would like to admit.
The 615-page survey was based on a sample of 1081 British Muslims found that 52 per cent think homosexuality should be illegal – compared to just 22 per cent of non-Muslims. Less than half said that it would be unacceptable for a gay or lesbian person to teach their children.
Almost a third (31 per cent) said polygamy should be legalised, with 35 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds saying it is acceptable to have more than one wife; 39 per cent said women should always obey their husbands – compared to five per cent of non-Muslim respondents. Only one in three refused completely to condemn the stoning of women accused of adultery.
Seven per cent said they support the idea of an Islamic caliphate, regardless of the methods used by Islamic State used to achieve it. 67 per cent opposed the idea.
Four per cent of respondents said they sympathised with suicide bombers, which would equate to roughly 108,000 Muslims in the UK.
The results also found a connection between the desire for a separate Islamic life, and being more sympathetic towards violence and religious extremism.
When asked what they would do if someone they knew was engaging in jihadist acts, only one three of respondents said they would report it to police.
Unlike most surveys, which are conducted over the phone or online, ICM used face-to-face, in-home research to question a sample of 1081 Muslims across Britain.
Some conservatives have been quick to endorse the documentary, using its findings to slam Islam and multiculturalism.
Katie Hopkins, a controversial British columnist, said the documentary “proved (she) was right all along” about Islam, and said Muslims in the UK have taken advantage of its tolerance.
Writing for The Daily Mail, she said: “Through no fault of our inclusive culture, it is them and us. And British Muslims expect us to change our ways to fit in with them.”
The documentary’s host, Trevor Phillips, warned of a growing “chasm” between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain, which he said is not going to go away any time soon.
But not everyone agrees that the documentary provided a fair and accurate representation of Muslims in the area.
Shiraz Maher, a lecturer in war studies at King’s College London, said the survey was flawed because it only included Muslims living in more concentrated Islamic areas (making up at least 20 per cent of the population), or “highly ghettoised clusters” that didn’t represent the beliefs of their liberal counterparts in more diverse areas.