BRITAIN's 1.6 million-strong Muslim community is deeply divided over issues of security, terrorism and national pride, an opinion poll for The Times and ITV News has found.
Six per cent of British Muslims believe that the 7/7 bombers were acting according to the true principles of Islam, while 7 per cent agree that suicide attacks on civilians in Britain can be justified under certain circumstances, a figure that rises to 16 per cent if the target is the military.
However, the poll of more than 1,000 Muslims indicates that nearly two thirds of Muslims (64 per cent) think that no more than a tiny minority of their community sympathised with the 7/7 bombers, and 59 per cent of the general population believe the same.
A second poll, of non-Muslim adults, indicates that 58 per cent of the general population think it is unacceptable for police to view Muslims with greater suspicion because the 7/7 bombers were Muslim.
Only a third of Muslims believe that Britain's anti-terror laws are being applied fairly. Despite this, 35 per cent say that they would feel proud if a close family member joined the police. As many (37 per cent) said that they would accept it. By contrast, three quarters (78 per cent) said that they would be angry if a close relative joined al-Qaeda and only 2 per cent said they would be proud.
Commentators called yesterday on their own communities to take responsibility for helping Muslims to integrate.
Lord Parekh, the academic, said: "There are people who do not feel accepted by British society, but at the same time they feel deeply uncomfortable with their own community because it is backward and not active. They have no roots, and if you have no roots violence comes easily to you. The Muslim community has to get a hold of itself. It has allowed itself to develop a sense of victimhood and that has to stop."
Lord Ahmed, the Labour peer, said: "The imams and scholars have more work to do to explain the true meaning of Islam to young Muslims, quite apart from explaining it to the wider population."
Baroness Uddin, a Labour peer campaigner for Muslim women's rights, said that the police needed to do more to build up trust. "There is a genuine belief that police are out to get Muslim kids," she sdaid. "Young people continue to be frustrated and alienated and suspicious of police. The Forest Gate incident has absolutely decimated trust of the police within the communities."
Populus interviewed 1,131 Muslim adults aged 18+ by telephone and online between June 1 and 16, 2006. Respondents had previously been interviewed by phone or online during regular omnibus surveys and had agreed to participate in future surveys. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to reflect the population profile of British Muslims as a whole. A second poll, at the same time, interviewed 1,005 non-Muslims.
THE MUSLIM POPULATION
1.6m the number of Muslims in Britain (1.54 million in England and Wales and 40,000 in Scotland)
43 per cent originate from Pakistan, 17 per cent from Bangladesh and 9 per cent from India
36 per cent of Tower Hamlets' population is Muslim, the highest concentration of any part of the UK
2/10 Pakistani or Bangladeshi women are active in the job market, compared to 7/10 black Caribbean and white women
£150 a week is the average amount that Pakistani and Bangladeshi men earn less than white men
30 per cent of pupils of Pakistani origin gained 5 or more GCSE grades A-C in 2000, compared with 50 per cent of the total population
1in3 Muslims has no qualifications, the highest for an ethnic group in Britain. They also have the lowest proportion of degrees or other higher qualifications
9 per cent is the number of Muslim prisoners in England and Wales. The number rose in 1994-2004 from 2,513 to 6,571
2004 In this year Muslims had the highest male unemployment rate in Britain, at 13 per cent, about three times the rate for Christian men (4 per cent)
31 per cent of working age male Muslims were economically inactive, the highest level in the country, in 2004