Strong Majority of Brits Back Burqa Ban

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 20: A Turkish girl stands in a crowd of women wearing burqas during the Shia holy day Ashura February 20, 2005 in Istanbul, Turkey. Ashura is a Shia Muslim holy day, celebrated as the most important day of the longer Muharram festival. The Ashura festival commemorates …
Yoray Liberman/Getty Images

Most Brits back a ban on Islamic burqas and niqabs, a survey has found, and a significant portion said Islam, in general, is not compatible with the British way of life.

The findings are part of an extensive study by Pew into the views of Christians and non-religious people in Europe, which identified a link between religiosity and opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism.

In the United Kingdom, 71 per cent of people said they favoured limiting in some way the wearing of the burqa, which is associated with more radical strains of Islam such as Salafism.

Of them, 52 per cent said Muslim women “should be allowed to wear religious clothing, as long as it does not cover their face”, with a further 19 per cent saying they “should not be allowed to wear any religious clothing”.

The findings suggest there is popular support for UKIP’s 2017 manifesto pledge to ban the burqa, despite the suggestion being widely attacked and ridiculed at the time.

The poll also found that 45 per cent of church-going Christians regard Islam as fundamentally incompatible with British values and culture, with the figure rising to 47 per cent among non-practising Christians.

Among those who do not identify with a particular faith, 30 per cent still agreed that Islam did not fit in the UK.

Across Western Europe in general, practising and non-practising Christians had higher levels of negative sentiment toward migrant religions than the non-religious, the 24,000 interviews conducted by the Washington D.C.-based research centre indicated.

Non-practising Christians were less likely than church-attending Christians to express nationalist views, but both groups were more likely than the non-religious to say that their culture is superior to others.

This finding is interesting in light of recent comments by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and deputy minister Zsolt Semjen on the importance of revitalising “Christian democracy” to maintain social cohesion in Europe.

Semjen claimed that it was the collapse of Christianity in the West which had “enabled Islam’s entry into Europe to act like a hot knife cutting through butter.”

“This is not a question of religion,” he suggested. “Christian civilisation is also of vital importance to those [non-religious people] whose belief is in European identity. In this sense, therefore, what we are really talking about is European self-defence.”

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