A new ComRes survey on Islamophobia - the fear of the Muslim faith - reveals that people think that the media is most to blame for whipping up a climate of fear of Islam in the UK.
People are twice as likely to say the media is to blame for Islamophobia (29%) than far-right groups (13%), or indeed Muslims themselves either abroad (14%) or in the UK (11%).
Conservative Party Chairman, Sayeeda Warsi, recently said Islamophobia had 'passed the dinner table test', becoming a social norm. Indeed, just 1% of people do not think that Islamophobia exists in the UK.
The poll was commissioned by one of the UK's oldest Muslim groups, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in order to inform its plans to counter the tide of prejudice against Islam and highlight strategies to promote better community relations.
The poll comes on the eve of Britain's biggest annual Islamic convention which will see 30,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community gathering at a 220-acre site in Hampshire. Foremost on the agenda will be ways to build bridges between communities and spread the word that Islam means peace.
Ahmadiyya Muslims recently launched a 'Muslims for Loyalty, Freedom & Peace' campaign with bus adverts, door-to-door pamphleting, fundraising for UK charities, blood donor sessions, inter-faith sessions, peace symposiums and more across the UK.
Now, at the annual convention between July 22-24, community members will reassert their ethos Love for All, Hatred for None, by pledging to counter hatemongers and extremism through a commitment to peace and amity.
Rafiq Hayat, National President Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said:
"The results of the survey reveal that more needs to be done to refocus media attention on the valuable contributions Muslims make to Britain and rather than excessively focusing on the troublemakers who scream at us through media headlines but have nothing to do with Islam. Their nefarious activities do a disservice to this country and are an affront to our faith.
"The poll shows quite clearly that there needs to be greater positive engagement between the media and Muslims in order to address Islamophobia in the UK."
Following the furore over the Pastor Jones controversy in the US, the ComRes survey also investigated perceptions over the Islamic scripture, the Holy Quran. Just 14% of the British public agree that the Quran justifies the use of violence against others.
"It is heartening to learn that the vast majority of people realise that there is no religious justification for terror and violence and the Holy Quran does not sanction hatred or discrimination. It states clearly that there is no compulsion in matters of religion."
The survey does throw up other interesting results:
* Muslims abroad (14%) are deemed to be more responsible than far right political groups (13%) and UK Muslims (11%) for contributing to Islamophobia.
* Younger people are more likely to think that the media is responsible for Islamophobia than older people - 40% of 18-24 years olds think this, compared to just 18% of people 65 and over.
* People who say that they do not belong to any religion (33%) are more likely to say that the media is responsible for Islamophobia than people who say that they are Christian (27%).
* Just 7% of people from social group C1 agree that the Quran justifies the use of violence against non-Muslims - this compares to 17% of people from group AB, 16% from group C2 and 15% from group DE.
Andrew Hawkins, ComRes Chairman, said:
"Two-thirds of the public do not believe the Quran justifies the use of violence against non-Muslims, providing evidence of the public's predominantly tolerant, liberal view of religious minorities. British Muslims should also be encouraged that only one in ten of the British public believe they are to blame for Islamophobia. Instead, more than four in ten British people say the media or the far-right are principally to blame for it."
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 1004 GB adults by telephone between the 8th and 10th July 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abide by its rules. Full data tables available at http://www.comres.co.uk
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