Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Quarter of Muslims believe 7/7 was staged

On the day the Prime Minister said that the “overwhelming” majority of UK Muslims wanted to be loyal citizens, a poll commissioned by Channel 4 found that nearly a quarter of British Muslims believe the 7/7 bombers were not responsible for the attacks and that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) think the Muslim community has no responsibility for the emergence of extremists wanting to target Britain.

Fifty-seven per cent were not confident they would be treated fairly if arrested in Britain and 46 per cent felt police tactics after the arrest of a Muslim terror suspect were racist.

Personally, I am very sceptical about how much such polls actually tell us. In my experience, the wording of the questions is very important. For example, a poll done a year or so ago for Channel 4 suggested that a large number of Britain's Muslims wanted Shariah law - however the question did not ask whether they meant they wanted it in the UK or in Muslim countries - the results were of course spun by the right wing tabloids to suggest that Muslims were a fifth column looking to impose Shariah on Britain.

However, the survey does show how much ground the government needs to make up to win the trust of British Muslims, who have been strongly critical of British foreign policy.

I wonder whether we will see more similar polls and statistics in the run up to the second anniversary of 7/7. Given that the Government is publishing a consultation paper on new anti-terrorism measures later this week, I am sure that there will be a desire to ratchet up the fear amongst the general population of the "Muslim threat".

I also wonder why the pollsters don't survey non-Muslims and ask them how much they trust the authorities and government - they might be surprised by the results.


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