British Muslims don't feel their fellow citizens believe them to be British.
As the Gallup researcher who focuses on European Muslim issues, I was struck by the conflicting message about Britain's Muslim population in Prime Minister David Cameron's speech in Munich last Saturday. The Prime Minister was eager to clear the "muddled thinking" about Muslims, religiosity, and violence as he told the crowd of dignitaries that "terrorism is not linked to any one religion or ethnic group." For a couple of minutes, I was tempted to think Cameron was quoting from Gallup's Coexist Index report about the lack of evidence between religion and acts of violence. But when he linked identity to sympathy for violence, the overall speech quickly became puzzling.
The Coexist Index report, released in 2009, paints a compelling British Muslim experience that's timely and imperatively worth retelling. The key takeway from the report is that European Muslims, including those from the United Kingdom, embrace their countries but their countries don't embrace them.
Many results underscore this main message, but I'll highlight just three:
One more thought that should help clear the "muddled thinking": British Muslims (7%) are far less likely than their fellow citizens (56%) to be "thriving" in life. This suggests that "achieving true cohesion" has more to do with jobs and economic opportunities for all rather than a perceived lack of allegiance to one's country. These findings paint a very clear picture, British Muslims shouldn't have to choose between religious and national identity markers for the larger society to embrace them as an integral part of the United Kingdom.
To learn more about Gallup's research on Muslim populations worldwide, please visit the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center.
- British Muslims identify strongly not only with their religion but also with their country. In fact, they're more likely than non-Muslim Britons to say they identify strongly with the United Kingdom.
- When asked about their ideal choice of neighborhood, British Muslims are more likely than non-Muslim Britons to want to live in areas with people of different backgrounds.
- Those who say religion is an important part of their life are as likely as those who don't to reject attacks on civilians.