British Muslims are far more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than the general British population, and are far less likely to see anti-Semitism as a problem, analysis of a poll on Muslims attitudes has found.
Although anecdotal evidence of anti-Semitism within the British Muslim community has previously been noted, this is the first time that the views of British Muslims on their Jewish compatriots has been properly quantified.
More than 1,000 British Muslims were recently asked for their views on a whole range of subjects, by ICM for a Channel 4 documentary to be aired later this week. The results made for uncomfortable reading, as they revealed deep seated homophobia and misogyny as well as a deep divide between British Muslim communities and the rest of the population.
But further independent analysis of the results has also revealed a stark streak of anti-Semitism running through the British Muslim community. The analysis will not be included in the documentary.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), which carried out the analysis, has noted in its report that “the polling data reveals that old-fashioned conspiracies about Jews having too much power in finance, business, politics and the media are not only alive in the Muslim population, but thriving.”
Echoing remarks by the documentary’s presenter, the former head of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips, who said he had expected “Europe’s Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, … gradually blending into Britain’s diverse identity landscape,” so too the CAA notes: “As Britain’s Muslim population has grown, British Jews assumed that interfaith models that led to huge advances in relations with British Christians, could apply just as well to relations with British Muslims. Indeed building bridges with British Muslims has become the focus of outreach work by British Jews.”
That assumption has proved to be deeply misplaced, as the poll results showed that British Muslims were nearly three times more likely to believe anti-Semitic statements put to them than British non-Muslims.
Thirty-eight per cent of British Muslims thought that Jews have “too much” control over global affairs, for example, against 10 per cent of British non-Muslims who agreed with the statement, while 44 per cent of Muslims thought Jews held too much power in the business world, against 18 per cent of British non-Muslims who agreed.
And while just 6 per cent of the general population blamed the Jews for “most of the world’s wars,” 26 per cent of British Muslims thought the statement to be true.
Eighty-one per cent of British Muslims either underestimate or “did not know” how many members of the Jewish population of Europe died as a result of the Holocaust (the question was not put to non-Jews), so it is perhaps unsurprising that 34 per cent of British Muslims think that Jews “still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust”, compared to 18 per cent of the general population who agreed.
The results also showed a strong correlation with support for extremist views, with nearly two thirds of Muslims professing anti-Semitic views also showing sympathy for terrorism, leading the CAA to warn that “Jews remain the ‘canary in the coal mine’, as they have been throughout history: those who harbour hatred of Jews also hate British society and sympathise with our most deadly enemies.”
Jonathan Sacerdoti, Director of Communications at the CAA, has warned that the overall trend towards anti-Semitism could result in a new exodus of European Jews from the continent.
“These findings exist against a backdrop of record Jewish immigration away from Europe, but also increased French Jewish immigration into the UK. This sets the UK apart from some parts of continental Europe, where the frequent murder of Jewish people by Muslim extremists has already become a recurring theme of this century,” he said.
“Britain finds itself at an important crossroads: we can either act now to combat the sort of hatred that leads to those attacks on Jews and others, or we can continue to allow political correctness and the understandable fear of discussing this sensitive issue to mute the debate that is now more urgent than ever.
“If a new generation of British Muslims is growing up perpetuating these conspiracy theories about Jews, nobody can be surprised if Jewish Britons – a tiny minority in the country – think seriously about their future prospects in the UK.”
Gideon Falter, Chairman of the CAA said: “This research shows that the gradual build-up of understanding and friendship between Britain’s Jews and Muslims has been utterly eclipsed by growing antisemitism amongst British Muslims.
“Britain must confront rampant antisemitism within its Muslim population, but also amongst the general population, whose shocking views should be no less concerning simply because the views of British Muslims are worse.”