Muslim and Other Religious Attitudes, and British Society 52

Both the Guardian and the Times have posts on Gallup’s Co-exist Index 2009.

The Times headline emphasises the more positive finding that Muslims in the UK identify more strongly with British institutions than do the rest of the population. The Guardian goes for the more sensational but still very important finding that British Muslims are much less socially liberal than French and German Muslims.

If you read the whole report, rather than the Gallup press release, you find many other more interesting bits of information in a worldwide survey. For example, the least tolerant (or as I would put it the most bigoted) people in the whole world are Israelis. On page 14 of the report:

Israelis are the least likely of the populations surveyed in the region to report they always treat members of other faiths with respect and are among the least likely to feel they are respected by others. They are also the least likely to agree that most religious faiths make a positive contribution to society

You can download the full report here:

Of course, what Gallup’s opinion survey cannot tell you is why the groups surveyed hold their opinions. But we should not pretend that the extreme intolerance of homosexuality by British muslims is not a problem.

I reject the reports attempt to distinguish between “Eros and Demos”. (p30)

Although European Muslims not only accept but also welcome the freedoms, democratic institutions, justice, and human rights that characterize their societies, their perceived lack of integration is often explained by their rejection of liberal, sexual mores. Some researchers point out that the greatest differences between Muslims and Westerners lie more in eros than demos. In other words, the Muslim-West gap rests on differences in attitudes toward sexual liberalisation and gender issues rather than democracy and governance

Here the report pulls its punches. The questions asked frame differences in terms of attitude to sexual practices. It does not ask key questions like “Should a woman have the right to vote as she wishes irrespective of the views of her husband or father?”, or “Should a wife obey her husband in all things?,” or “Should a husband’s career take precedence?”.

Those questions would be much more useful in terms of determining whether there are gender issues which stray over from the realm of Eros to the realm of Demos – and I strongly suspect there are.

One of the worst things to happen to British democracy – completely deliberately by New Labour – is the coming together of the patriarchal system of British Muslim communities with the introduction of mass postal voting. If anyone pretends that the result has not been fraud on a massive scale and the effective disenfranchisement of Muslim women and subordinate males through loss of the secret ballot, they are a complete fool. The survey does nothing to illuminate this aspect.

But it is worth noting that several other religious groups display as much intolerance as the Muslims. I don’t think you would find sexual tolerance any better among Lodon’s numerous “Charismatic” christian groups, for example.

With all those caveats, the report has year on year shown much greater coincidence between socio-gender attitudes of Muslims, compared to the rest of the population, in Germany and France than in Britain. Ghettoisation is a huge problem in the UK, but I am not sure it is any less in Germany. What France does much better than the UK is integrated education. Tony Blair’s obsession with Faith schools was a disaster on every level. In Blackburn I witnessed apartheid – all white schools within a mile of all Asian schools. The truth is that Labour have fostered separate Muslim communities for a generation as a secure vote bank. The result is a disaster for social cohesion.


A comment below by Jungle points out that the different ethnic background of British Muslims may be in large part responsible for the differences in attitudes to French and German Muslims, due to the preponderance of Pakistanis here.

In fact that had been my initial reaction too, but I partially rejected it for the following reason. If you look at the same survey for 2007, the results and the differences between British and European Muslims are almost identical. But the 2007 survey, unlike the 2009 survey, makes explicit that poling was carried out only in capitals – London, Paris and Berlin. Inside London itself, Britain’s Muslim community is very ethnically diverse, with for example a very large and well established Turkish and Turkish Cypriot community, a big pre-evolutionary Iranian committee etc. We almost forget they are “Muslim” because they are so Europeanised. The Gallup methodology makes plain that Turkish and Iranian were among the languages used for interviews. The fact they still did not find one British Muslim prepared to tolerate homosexuality is therefore significant – they were not only interviewing Pakistanis.

Yes, I am sure ethnic differences are a factor. But they are not the only factor; and even if they were, they would not make the attitudes any more cceptable.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

52 thoughts on “Muslim and Other Religious Attitudes, and British Society

1 2
  • lwtc247

    Re: Happy Clappy. I didn’t see his comment and I thought you were meant it as gesturing mock applause.

    You said “When you complain that I ask you to tolerate my views, but don’t tolerate yours, this is because yours are intolerant, and mine are not.” – This is chicken and egg.

    50 years ago you didn’t tolerate those who supported the position of homosexuality within British society. Your intolerance eventually lead to it becoming what I’d evaluate as being, socially accepted in the UK today. So isn’t it the case that we are BOTH philosophically intolerant.

    And really, to think that any society can exist with 100% tolerance in regard to anything is a bit daft really.

    I +reject+ your call to tolerate your views, so I’m not ‘complaining’.

    Classic teaching of Islam doesn’t allow Muslims to project ‘Islamic structures’ upon it’s the original inhabitants. So I may really dislike what you do, but I think you can feel safe no Muslim will seek to kill you. Even in many Muslim countries now a consensus of “give them a (never ending) chance to reform” seems to be taking place. People have told me this ‘chance’ is even being extended to point where no obstacles are being put in front of them from studying in Islamic Universities despite them obviously being gay. But that isn’t something that can be used to demonise Islam or monotheism so gets little discussion.

  • anticant

    I don’t think criticising Islam’s religious beliefs, legal systems, and social mores is ‘demonising’ it.

    I am no more ‘intolerant’ of those who wish to persecute me than resistance fighters in Europe during World War Two were ‘intolerant’ of the Nazis or ‘demonised’ them.

    You really should bone up on the classic precepts of liberalism. Have you read John Stuart Mill “On Liberty” recently?

  • Chris

    Drew Murray,

    fair point. I wasn’t thinking in a particularly straight line when I posted!

    I was overly angry at the other issues this thread seems to have settled on and am also sick and tired of Muslim bashing. Your points however seem a little more nuanced than the usual and certainly bear thinking about.

  • anticant

    You are sick and tired of Muslim bashing? I am sick and tired of gay bashing.

  • eddie

    lwtc247 – then perhaps you would tell us what forms of sexual congress you do approve of? In my experience, homophobes like you often have something to hide, some repression in their past that makes them so vehement in their denunciations of Gay people. Am I right or am I right? What scares you exactly, why is Gay love “perverted”? Pretending this is about “muslim bashing” is just lazy. I would condemn homophobes whoever they are, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or atheist. Actually, Gay life has a strong tradition in the Muslim and Arab world – read Joe Orton.

  • eddie

    ltwc – just had a look at your pitiful blog. More conspiracy theories eh? – it’s “history for the stupid”. Western governments lose laptops and can’t find Osama bin Laden yet they can organise brilliant conspiracies and no one leaks a thing? Your views can be neatly summed up on this site.

  • Chris

    Sorry anticant… I’m sick and tired of gay bashing as well. It has no place in any society. Ever.

  • lwtc247

    “Have you read John Stuart Mill “On Liberty” recently?”

    No I haven’t. You presumably think I need to, I must say my interests lie elsewhere, but I’ll find a place for it on the list.

    I presume a ‘Millsian’ description of liberalism is offered. Does it serve then, and is it perceived as the Gospel according to some liberal?

    In closing I’d ask: does it have a right to round-up/define liberalism?

    – Just how liberal is a defined liberal anyway?

  • lwtc247

    Who’s gay bashing? Isn’t this the ‘anti-Semitism’ slurr of the gay zone. It a stone-wall comment. It addresses no issues at all.

    Finding sexual acts between people of the same sex as sinful and something to be rejected is as simple as that.

    So, who’s sleeping with their mother tonight?

  • anticant

    Rather typical of you to assume that one book, or any book, lays down the ‘creed’ of liberalism in the same manner as a sacred religious text like the Koran binds its followers.

    To assume that any pronouncement – whether from a postulated god or a human being – is the final, definitive liberal credo is the antithesis of liberalism.

  • lwtc247

    Well I didn’t have eddies crystal ball to tell me anything about the book – urrrm, seconds thoughts, scotch that.

    You could give me a synopsis of the book through your eyes. Actually I’d appreciate it if you did.

  • anticant

    Three key paragraphs from Mill’s Essay on Liberty:

    “The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

    “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

    “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

  • MerkinOnParis

    lwtc24/7 said : ‘I think we need to agree to disagree on the homosexuality point and agree to work in the common ground.’

    That seems fair enough.

  • lwtc247

    @ anticant 1:10 PM

    I wasn’t being lazy. I wanted YOUR eyes view on it. But thanks for spending time in posting those paragraphs.

    A lot of what Mills says (in the extracts you gave) is very questionable {and I find it very ‘thickety’ to read}.

    The Individual is never sovereign. He has proved to align himself with a number of general consensuses or sociological/political philosophies.

    “persuing our own good” should not be, but is, conflated with “pursuing ones physical desires”. When conflation occurs, it maps to neoliberalism. The general point is not lost however, but what Mills says is not unique to liberalism. In fact, it’s just a rehash of “The Golden Rule” – something common to all faiths and even faithless societies. See the writings of Dr. Chandra Muzzafar or even Karen Armstrong TED prize winner.

    “Each is the proper guardian of his own health” – This is idealism at its very pinnacle. The health of the individual is greatly impinged upon by the industrialised world, and particularly by the capitalist dogs who somehow believe they have some right to pollute the environment for their own profit, and under the guise of the ‘free market;, effectively force us to eat their tampered food. Then there’s the nearly compulsory vaccinations and so forth.

    Watch “The Corporation” ( a link to Google video) for proof of what I say.

    “”If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person” – What is that? The simple issue of free speech, the abandonment of the Democracy, or both? It seems like both, which is a shame as I think theocratic democracy is quite interesting.

    But what follows on form if the individual speaks? Must his opinion be acted upon? or is it OK to ignore him once he’s had his say?

    Liberalism is essentially a ‘freedom’ issue, not to be confused with the liberty afforded by religion. That isn’t to say religion provided total liberty but righteous, productive and harmonious liberty. Non-religious people will of course likely hate that.

  • MerkinOnParis

    Last week I took issue with ‘HappyClappy’ misrepresenting AntiCant’s position on another thread.

    He has done it again here.

    I can say, as someone who knows Anti as a good friend, that there is not a racist bone in his body.

    I don’t always agree with his views on every aspect of multiculturalism but would not seek to diminish his argument by simply calling him a poof or a bigot.

    It didn’t work last time, it won’t work this time.

  • lwtc247

    As Merkin kindly highlights, the call to put the homosexual issue to the side.

    So anticant, continue to be my commrade against torture, and corrupt “UK democracy” etc. Other issues can be address after we’ve acheived success.

  • anticant

    Agreed. I try never to make the mistake of believing that my enemy’s enemy must automatically be my friend [not that I want to have enemies, even though I disagree with people sometimes]. And people can be friends and allies in some causes whilst disagreeing over others.

    In these dismal times there is an abundance of issues on which we can make common cause against public lying, theft, violence, greed, genocide – I leave you to carry on the list.

    As Craig said this morning, we are ruled by people who no longer ask what is right and what is wrong, but only what they can get away with within the rules or, if necessary, by breaking the rules.

    Far from being a ‘racist’ I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country which once – for all its faults – had a prouder and more honest record than it does now. We have forfeited whatever respect in the world we were once entitled to.

    As for the Middle East, the British and Americans have no business there except their insatiable greed for oil. We should leave the people of the region to resolve their own quarrels in their own way. After what we have done in Iraq, what right have we to preach at them?

  • Tim B

    ‘Israelis are the least likely of the populations surveyed in the region to report they always treat members of other faiths with respect and are among the least likely to feel they are respected by others.’

    One thought that occurs to me is that the former point may be a consequence of the latter. Another (bearing in mind some of the other states in that region) is that Israelis, rather than being the most bigoted, are just the most honest.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    This is complex, multifactorial, dynamic. The social class demographics of migration are key here. Most immigration from Pakistan occurred from the most deprived communities in that country; the same cannot be said of Turkey/ the Middle East/ the Maghreb in relation to France/ Germany. London is far more diverse than any other UK city. And there’s much more. It seems somewhat fashionable to ascribe all bad things to ‘Pakistanis’ and all good thinsg to everyone else. I agree with much of Mr Murray’s original post. Some of the commentators thereafter are sensible and make valid points; others are obviously foetid racists.

    Personally, as a person who has been called, “Paki” more times than I’ve had ice-cream cones, I identify most avidly with the dark side of the moon and the star, Canopus (neither of which can be seen from the UK).

  • Ed Bell

    Irrespective of what the survey says, muslims in France and Germany are not well integrated. I don’t think they should represent some sort of benchmark for muslim integration in the UK.

1 2

Comments are closed.