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Report finds Muslim communities among most discriminated against in UK

Protesters demonstrate against the rise of Islamophobia after the recent acid attacks on Muslims in London, UK on 5 July 2017 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]
Protesters demonstrate against the rise of Islamophobia in London, UK on 5 July 2017 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]

British Muslims have been categorised as being one of the most discriminated communities across the UK, according to a new report on Islamophobia published on Monday and reported by Anadolu News Agency.

The analysis by the University of Birmingham and data analysis firm, YouGov, discovered that the British public are more likely to hold discriminatory and negative views on Islam than on any other religion, and a significant minority of this population hold incorrect and conspiratorial views on British Muslim communities.

The study revealed that the demographics of those most likely to hold such Islamophobic views and beliefs are among the elderly population, working-class, males, and those who voted to leave the EU as well as supporters of the Conservative Party under Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

"Prejudice towards Islam and Muslims stands out in the UK, not only because it is much more widespread than most forms of racism, but also because prejudice toward Islam is more common among those who are wealthier and well-educated," said Stephen H. Jones, the lead author of the study.

"No one is calling for laws regulating criticism of religion, but we have to recognise that the British public has been systematically mis-educated about Islamic tradition and take steps to remedy this," Jones added.

READ: UK PM orders inquiry into Islamophobia allegations by ex-minister

According to the report, the non-Muslim British public is three times more likely to hold prejudiced views of Islam than they are of other faiths. Support for the prohibition of Muslim migration to the UK is 4-6 per cent higher than it is for other religious and ethnic minority groups, and British people are more confident in making incorrect judgments about Islam than other non-Christian faiths.

The report further finds that over one in four people hold conspiratorial views on the so-called "Sharia no-go areas." Some 26.5 per cent agree that there are certain areas of the UK that operate under Sharia law and that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering. 36.3 per cent agree that Islam threatens the British way of life. The vast majority of them are Tory and Brexit supporters.

Just over a quarter of the British public harbours negative views towards Muslims, with 9.9 per cent feeling "very negative" towards them. In comparison, only 8.5 per cent of the public hold negative views for Jewish people, 6.4 per cent for Black people, and 8.4 per cent for other white people of different nationalities.

The study, however, found that people from middle and upper-class occupational groups are also more likely to hold prejudiced views against Muslims and Islamic beliefs. People from higher social groups are 4.8 per cent more likely to view Islam as "literalistic," without interpretation, than other lower social groups.

READ: Islamophobia is a billion-dollar industry in the US; it's time to uproot it

As well as reporting on the scale of Islamophobia in the UK, the report also offered various recommendations to combat and offer solutions to anti-Muslim discrimination, including the public acknowledgment of Islamophobia by the government and equally higher public institutions.

"Civil society organisations and equality bodies concerned with prejudice and discrimination should acknowledge that systemic mis-education about Islam is common in British society and forms an important element of Islamophobia."

"Government and other public figures should publicly acknowledge and address the lack of public criticism that Islamophobic discourses and practices trigger, and how Islamophobia stands out compared with other forms of racism and prejudice."

The publication of the report comes shortly after accusations were levelled against the Tory party after Muslim Minister, Nusrat Ghani, was sacked due to her "Muslimness" making other ministers uncomfortable.

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