According to a poll recently carried out by Channel Four and presented by Trevor Philips last night I find that apparently I may be accepting of my husband to have another wife, want homosexuality banned, should always obey my husband, wouldn't report someone going to Syria, and of course want Sharia law implemented instead of British Law. Certainly a surprise to me.
Philips claims the poll supports his belief there is a 'chasm' opening between Muslims and people of other faiths and he's right there probably is, but ironically what he fails to acknowledge is the reasons why and those responsible. It is polls such as this and the one carried out recently by the Sun which is creating a 'them and us' narrative.
He also claims there is the creation of a 'nation within a nation with its own values and separate future' but why are differences such a bad thing? I know I am different to my friends of other or no faiths. As a Muslim my beliefs and values do differ and that is not something I should be expected to explain or apologise for, any more than a person of Christian or Jewish faith should have to. However that does not mean that I do not have a sense of belonging or consider myself to be British I also know there are issues that need to be addressed in the Muslim community as there are in all communities. But I also know this isn't the way to address them.
I could point out the flaws with the methodology of this study resulting in distorted results, such as the fact that the survey polled those living in an area where Muslims formed more than >20% of the population in an area of socioeconomic deprivation and therefore may have more conservative beliefs, that the size of the sample couldn't be reflective of almost 3 million Muslims in the UK or even that the poll group was interviewed face to face and the control group over the telephone, but the damage has already been done.
I could also go through each statistic and place it in context e.g although only 34% of Muslims would report to the police suspicion that someone they know harbored terrorist sympathies, in the control group the figure was actually only 30% too. But I wont.
Philips worries 'integration of Muslims will be the hardest task we face'. The poll states that one in five Muslims have never entered a Non-Muslim household but I wonder how many Non-Muslims have entered a Muslims home or visited a mosque on an open day? Is integration a one sided process? Surely Integration is a 'two way process with cross influences from both cultures and changes from both sides to accept the minority culture into the majority culture'. If communities maintain their identities and live peacefully alongside each other by accommodating each other's viewpoints surely that's integration? Perhaps addressing issues affecting integration like education, job discrimination and socioeconomic deprivation to provide the opportunity for people to move and integrate is what should be done.
I could go on.
But I won't because there is much a bigger point that is being overlooked....
Why was there a need for the poll in the first place?
This is the question that sincerely needs to be asked. Why are Muslim repeatedly being interrogated about their thoughts and religious beliefs? And this is where as a British Muslim I worry we are sleepwalking towards assimilation which is one directional and relies on minority communities giving up on their beliefs and cultures in order to be accepted, in this case to fit in with 'British Values'.
Perhaps if Philips had asked what ideas, concerns and expectations Muslims have ie What Muslims 'really' think, then that may have been the start of a constructive dialogue to promote integration.
But that's just my viewpoint and I also know my thoughts don't speak for approximately 4.5 % of the population but hopefully one day someone will sincerely ask what British Muslims really think?
Article also published on 5Pillars (www.5pillarsuk.com)