​Brits associate Muslims more with terrorism than religion, poll indicates

Muslims attend Friday prayers in the courtyard of a housing estate next to the small BBC community centre and mosque in east London (Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)
British people associate Muslims with terrorism more than any other concept, researchers at YouGov found. The public also associates the terms “extremist” and “misogynist” with the Muslim community.

The poll indicated a sharp decline in sympathy for refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

Interfaith promoter Fiyaz Mughal OBE told RT that the Muslim community’s history of “positive engagement” in the UK must be remembered.

The survey of 6,640 people asked what three words and phrases they most associate with the term “Muslim.”

Some 12 percent of those polled said terror, terrorist or terrorism – the most frequently occurring phrase.

The next most popular terms were faith (11 percent), mosque (9 percent), Koran (8 percent) and religious (8 percent).

Extremist” and “misogynist” were also frequently occurring terms that 5 percent of people associated with “Muslim."

The same poll also found a drop in sympathy for Middle Eastern refugees, with 42 percent saying the UK should not offer asylum to those fleeing conflict and persecution compared to 34 percent in favor.

By contrast, a 2014 poll found that 31 percent were against Britain welcoming refugees while 40 percent were in favor.

Islamic Relief UK director Jehangir Malik said: “The results of this poll are extremely worrying because they show that public attitudes towards Muslims are hugely negative and attitudes towards refugees have hardened significantly.

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Over 30 million refugees and others in the Middle East are in need of humanitarian aid, and the British Muslim community gives very generously to support charities in the forefront of delivering aid in places like Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Iraq – particularly during Ramadan.

It’s time we celebrated the role British Muslims play as part of the solution rather than demonizing the Muslim community as part of the problem,” he added.

Faith Matters founder Fiyaz Mughal acknowledged that the survey links Muslims to negative terms such as extremism and terrorism.

Speaking to RT, he said: “Our work with Muslim communities also shows them to be diverse communities, playing a positive role in the United Kingdom and having a long history of positive engagement with this country.

That must be borne in mind when looking at the prism of diverse Muslim communities.

The poll results come as former Conservative minister Baroness Warsi attacked the government for carrying out a “policy of disengagement” with British Muslims.

Warsi is from the West Yorkshire town of Dewsbury and knows the family of Talha Asmal, a 17-year-old British teenager who joined Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) and reportedly killed himself in a suicide attack in northern Iraq.

Warsi told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “We continue to hear these calls for the Muslim community, quite rightly, to do more with dealing with this issue of radicalization. But the British Muslim communities will be able to do that better with a government stood alongside it and collaborating with the community… Sadly over the last six or seven years there has been a policy of disengagement with British Muslim communities.

It is incredibly odd and incredibly worrying that over time more and more individuals, more and more organizations are considered by the government to be beyond the pale and therefore not to be engaged with.”

Unfortunately the coalition government carried on that policy. It is now time to end that policy of disengagement and start speaking to the British Muslim communities, and empowering them to do more,” she added.