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December 17, 2001

Muslims comfortable being British but not with foreign policy

A majority of Muslims in the UK say they feel comfortable being British and see no contradiction in being Muslim and British. But many are sceptical about the sincerity of the Government, especially over foreign policy.
According to a ‘temperature-gauging poll’ conducted by The Muslim News on line, the single most difficult issue for British Muslims to reconcile was the Government role in international affairs. A massive 86 per cent believed the UN and the West had double standards in dealing with the injustice in the world.
More than two out of five agreed that if the West had been more tough and exacting against Israel, with regard to the Kashmiri conflict and on Bosnia, they would have been more supportive of action against Usama bin Ladin.
On the question of self-identification, although 48 per cent said they were ‘Muslim first and foremost,’ another 20 per cent felt comfortable to be described as ‘British Muslims.’ For the remainder, country of origin or a combination of identities were more significant aspects of identity. But 62 per cent said that they did not see any contradiction in being Muslim and British against 21 per cent who disagreed.
Regarding the events of September 11, just over half of the respondents said they reacted to news of the attacks with a combination of “sadness and understanding;” 36 per cent said it was a “moral outrage;” only 8.5 per cent agreed that it was a “good strike.” But an overwhelming 79 per cent of Muslims disagreed that it was right to bomb Afghanistan, 73 per cent said they would have preferred a criminal investigation and extradition process. More than two-thirds believed it was wrong by the US and West to describe September 11 as an act of war.
Although many Muslims support the Labour Government when it came to power in 1997 advocating an ethical foreign policy, the running poll found clear evidence that their expectations were dashed. With few expressing optimism about the future, The Muslim News says that Muslims will need a lot of convincing about the sincerity of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Government. The issue was not one of citizenship as Home Secretary David Blunkett has suggested, but more of dissent with domestic and foreign policies.
More details will be published in this Friday's issue of The Muslim News.

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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