Muslims face rising suspicion in UK following terrorist attacks

October 08, 2017
Exclusion. British Muslims take part in a vigil on Westminster Bridge in central London to commemorate one week since the March 22 terror attack that killed four. (AFP)

London - Suspicion towards Islam and Muslims is increasing in Britain following a se­ries of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, two studies revealed.
Research by the UK-based HOPE not Hate campaign group indi­cated, based on a survey of 4,000 people conducted by the Populus polling campaign, that more than 40% of respondents in England said they were more suspicious of Muslims following attacks in West­minster, Manchester and London Bridge.
More than half of respondents (52%) said Islam represented a “threat” to the West and one-quar­ter of those asked said Islam was a “dangerous religion” that incites violence.
“Attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have worsened overall, par­ticularly among the more hostile sections of society,” the report, ti­tled “Fear and Hope 2017,” warned.
“Muslims are regarded as uniquely different from the ma­jority British public. Just 10% of the public said they feel Muslims are similar to themselves, a view prevalent even among those most confident about multiculturalism,” the report added.
Many Muslim organisations ex­pressed dismay at the findings. Tell MAMA, a national project that records anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom, said the re­port represented a “wake-up call” for Muslims.
“These are stark responses and show a divide that is clearly open­ing up between wider communi­ties and British Muslim communi­ties,” said a Tell MAMA statement.
Tell MAMA drew attention to the figure that showed that more than half of respondents said they had failed to notice Muslim commu­nity leaders speaking out against terrorism.
“While we know that many Brit­ish Muslims have gone out of their way to speak up against extrem­ism and terrorism and to reach out to others, this work needs to be ramped up, better organised and much more vocal,” Tell MAMA said.
It described the growing divide between the general public and British Muslim communities as “stark” and called for more action, from all sides. “If we are to ensure that community tensions, extrem­ism and marginalisation are to be tackled in our country, we have to find ways which address the con­cerns of the wider public, whilst also ensuring that British Muslims feel that they have a space in the United Kingdom,” Tell MAMA said.
Rising suspicion towards Mus­lims extends to education and em­ployment, amid signs that issues of discrimination and integration are likely to remain a problem for Muslims in Britain for some time.
A study published by UK watch­dog organisation the Social Mo­bility Commission said Muslims were facing major social mobility barriers due to discrimination and Islamophobia. Focus groups and interviews determined that many Muslims said they felt discriminat­ed against by prospective employ­ers, with one respondent saying he felt he had to work “ten times as hard” as non-Muslim peers to get the same opportunities.
The study said Muslim adults were far less likely to be in full-time work than the general public, despite evidencing above average education and strong work ethic. Only 19.8% of Muslims aged 16- 74 were in full-time employment, compared to 34.9% of the overall population. Also, 6% of Muslims are breaking through into “higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations” com­pared to 10% of the overall popula­tion in England and Wales.
“Muslims are excluded, dis­criminated against or failed, at all stages of their transition from edu­cation to employment,” said Pro­fessor Jacqueline Stevenson, who led the research.
Former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, who heads the Social Mo­bility Commission, acknowledged that British Muslims were being let down by the system. “The British social mobility promise is that hard work will be rewarded. Unfortu­nately, for many young Muslims in Britain today this promise is being broken,” he said in a news release.
He acknowledged that the re­ports paint a “disturbing picture” of the challenges Muslims face in securing social progress in the United Kingdom but said there was no simple solution to address­ing this.
“There are no easy or straightfor­ward solutions to the issues they have raised. But a truly inclusive society depends on creating a level playing field of opportunity for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background. That will require re­newed action by government and communities, just as it will by edu­cators and employers,” he added.