PRESIDENT OF FAITH MATTERS: RT HON SIMON HUGHES MP
Faith Matters is a not for profit organisation founded in 2005 which works to reduce extremism and interfaith and intra-faith tensions and we develop platforms for discourse and interaction between Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jewish and Hindu communities across the globe. We have offices in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and the Middle East (Jerusalem)
'Radicalisation - Third of Muslims Blame Police,'
says Sky News Poll
The Sky News poll out today shows a growing gap in understanding on issues of integration and community cohesion between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. For example, 71% of the 1000 Muslims polled thought that Islam was compatible with British values whilst about 20% of non-Muslim agreed with them. Also, a third of Muslims polled said that they get more hostility than a few more years ago and whilst over 60% of Muslims say that they are doing enough to integrate within British society, just 18% of non-Muslims polled agree with them.
The findings show that cohesion within our country is fragile and consistently needs to be worked upon. It also shows that this area of work needs urgent social action and this only comes through Government, civil society and private sector partnerships and investments since all have a stake in the development of communities.
We know that economic development only happens when communities are getting on with one another and when there is no significant disorder. This is the premium to the investment that is needed and we hope that whoever is in power after the next General Election, ensures that this area of work is given serious consideration and support.
Yet the findings are also troubling in another sense. More than a third of the British Muslims polled blamed the action of the police and MI5 in radicalising a younger generation of Muslims. This is worrying since it is a simple, yet caustic perception which is gaining ground and which has been promoted by some Muslim groups. What is a fact and which a substantial body of evidence shows, is that young people are radicalised by a range of factors, but ideology is one of the central factors along with grievances and peer mentor or group support. It is deeply worrying when a third of the respondents believe that the State's security apparatus is the radicalising factor and it seems as if this group of individuals have simply missed the point that ideology is a key radicalising factor.
It is easy to blame the ills of society on 'the Government' or on the State's security apparatus. Yet, some of the civil society groups that do so, look the way other on the issue of ideology, whilst this poisonous ideology seeps into younger members of the community. Those who believe that security organisations bear some responsibility may also be succeptable to wild conspiracy theories that 9/11 was an 'inside job' and that Bin Laden is still alive somewhere between Afghanistan and Peshawar. If anything, this is the real headline of the poll - that over 300 people out of 1000 Muslims polled believe that radicalisation is driven because of the actions of the police and MI5.
There is a long way to go in building better relations and perceptions between police, state security bodies and Muslim communities, yet such beliefs held by over 300 Muslims do not help. After May 7th, let us hope that the next Government has the stomach and the staying power to try and tackle some of these issues head on, instead of doing what many governments before have done, and that is to reel off statistics that are meaningless without real investment.