Fear and hatred of Muslims in the UK ‘is now mainstream’

Fear and hatred of Muslims in the UK ‘is now mainstream’
A new survey has found that Islamophobia in Britain has “gone mainstream” with 18% of respondents holding “extremely negative” views of Muslims.
3 min read
15 July, 2019
Supporters of imprisoned Islamophobic activist Tommy Robinson rally in London [Getty]

There has also been a worrying increase in Islamophobia in Britain, according to a new report by the British newspaper The Mirror.

A poll commissioned by the anti-racist organization Hope Not Hate found that 31% of the British population believes that Islam poses a treat to the British way of life, with 18% of people having an “extremely negative” view of Muslims.

The Mirror said that the poll results suggested that Islamophobia had gone mainstream. A total of 6,118 adults were polled for the survey by YouGov between 26th April and 1st May 2019

There was, however, a marked difference between age groups regarding perceptions of Muslims. Only 8% of 18-24 years old saw Muslims extremely negatively while 22% of over-50s did.

The levels of Islamophobia were very high among Conservative Party voters, the poll found, with 44% of Conservative voters considering Islam to be a threat and 26% of Conservatives who voted to leave the European Union in 2016 seeing Muslims very negatively.

Boris Johnson, who is currently the frontrunner in the race to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, has a history of making Islamophobic statements. He has previously compared Muslim women who wear the full niqab face-veil to “letter-boxes” and “bank robbers”.

The Guardian reported on Monday that Johnson had previously written that “Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom”.

Negative portrayal of Muslims in the British media is thought to be a major factor in the increase in Islamophobia. A recent analysis by the Muslim Council of Britain found that 59% of news stories featuring Muslims had negative themes.

78% of stories featuring Muslims the right-wing Mail on Sunday were negative.

Social media has also contributed to the rise in Islamophobia in the UK, with platforms such as Facebook and Google being used to spread false news, such as the purported existence of “no-go” zones run by Muslims in the UK.

Muslims and Islam have also been associated on social media with child molestation as a result of the grooming gangs scandal, which involved mostly British Asian men raping or sexually exploiting teenage girls under the age of 16.

While most of the men involved in the grooming gangs were Muslim, in general the majority of men who commit sexual offences against children in the UK are non-Muslim.

Regarding Islamophobia, Rosie Carter, a senior policy officer at Hope Not Hate said,"This is a cancer that will only get worse if people don't stand up against it, whether that's politicians, the media or anyone else. We all have our part to play in countering Islamophobia."

However, the presence of positive Muslim role-models has contributed to a decrease in Islamophobia in some parts of the UK. Islamophobia has decreased in Liverpool due to Mo Salah’s stellar presence and goal-scoring abilities in Liverpool Football Club.