One in Nine British Muslims Think That Charlie Hebdo Deserved to be Attacked

San Francisco 'Charlie Hebdo' Memorial (AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez

One in nine British Muslims believe that publications like Charlie Hebdo which publish images of Mohammed deserve to be attacked, a poll has found. Nearly one in three Muslims polled also said that they had sympathy for the motives behind the Charlie Hebdo attack, although close to two thirds said they did not.

Com Res polled 1000 British Muslims for BBC Radio 4 between 26th January and 20th February, just weeks after Islamic gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, including five cartoonists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication had for years published cartoons mocking all sorts of people including political leaders, the Pope and Mohammed, which the gunmen claimed was “insulting”.

78 percent of the Muslims polled agreed with the statement “It is deeply offensive to me personally when images of the Prophet Mohammed are published”. 20 percent did not agree with that statement.

However the majority, 68 percent, agreed that acts of violence against those who publish images of Mohammed “can never be justified”, although nearly a quarter, 24 percent, disagreed with that statement. And 93 percent agreed that Muslims in Britain should always obey British laws. A resounding 94 percent said that they feel loyal to Britain, against 6 percent who said that they do not.

On the place of Muslims in the west, opinions were more divided. Just shy of half of those polled said that clerics who preach that violence against the West is justified are “out of touch with mainstream Muslims”, but 45 percent said that they were not.

And 46 percent said that it is difficult to be a Muslim in Britain thanks to prejudice against Islam.

Last October there were a number of headlines claiming that Islamophobic crime had leapt up in London by 65 % over the previous 12 months. Fiyaz Mughal, director of the Islamophobia monitoring group Tell MAMA told the Huffington Post that such a large rise was unexpected; the group had been predicting a rise of 30 – 50 percent.

“When there’s an IS beheading, or there’s a terror threat made against the UK, you’ll find a bombardment of online abuse and threats. And it will be a discernible spike, increasing for a short period and then dying down,” he said.

However, figures from the Metropolitan Police’s website, which logs all crime in London, showed that there had been just an 11.3 percent rise for the whole of 2014, with the number of crimes totalling 611 in 2014.

By comparison, there were 358 anti-Semitic hate crimes committed in London in 2014, up 121 percent from the previous year according to figures from the Metropolitan Police. But as Jews make up less than two percent of London’s population, whereas Muslims constitute over 12 percent, Jewish people are four times more likely than Muslims to be the target of hate crimes in London.


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