Channel 4's 'What British Muslims Really Think' Provokes Backlash Over 'Skewed Poll'

"Boring, inaccurate and sensationalist."

Channel 4 is facing a backlash over a documentary highlighting the findings of a survey about British Muslims.

'What British Muslims Really Think', presented by Trevor Phillips, found that, among those questioned, a quarter want to live under Sharia law, 4% sympathise with terrorism and 52% think homosexuality should be illegal.

The survey of 1,000 people was hailed by the programme makers as the most comprehensive in years but Muslims watching the programme branded it "boring, inaccurate and sensationalist" and accused it of reinforcing "the us vs them narrative".

Trevor Philips
Trevor Philips
Channel 4

Before the programme had even aired on Wednesday night the poll had faced accusations of being skewed.

The Muslim Council of Britain said it was a “made for TV” and lacked “academic rigour”.

It claimed the poll’s method of only speaking to people from areas that are at least 20% Muslim “skews” the results towards more conservative communities and will “do nothing but harden attitudes on all sides.”

“We understand the poll draws answers from areas where Muslims formed more than 20% of the population,” an MCB statement to HuffPost UK said.

“These happen to be some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK with a disproportionately high number of people with a Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnicity.

“Choosing specifically to poll in areas that are poor and more religiously conservative, skews the results and makes it indicative of these areas and not of British Muslims nationally.”

Trevor Philips also drew criticism for his style presenting and questioning methods.

Zaynab Mirza, a 32-year-old Muslim from London told the Guardian: "The programme claimed to show a balanced representation of Muslims in Britain, but in posing questions such as “why are the views of Muslims still so out of line with society?” the presenter Trevor Phillips seemed to be looking for negative answers.

"Having said that, people like the comedian, Atif Nawaz, and the lady working with the church were actually representative of your average British Muslim."

The show did have its supporters - in a surprise to absolutely no one, Katie Hopkins wrote an entire column about it.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 told HuffPost UK on Monday, the programme would be “very clear” about how the survey was conducted.

“Around 50 per cent of British Muslims live in the areas we surveyed. ICM, which is one of the UK’s leading polling organisations, with a long track record of producing credible and accurate surveys, is satisfied that the results allow us to draw strong conclusions about the views of UK Muslims.

“There is no evidence to suggest that Muslims have radically different attitudes to the issues surveyed depending on whether they live in areas of more than, or less, than 20 per cent Muslim population.”

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