UK poll shows increase in fear of Islam

The recent trans-Atlantic airplane terror plot and the 7/7 London terrorist attacks are said to be major factors behind the rise in fear.

A majority of people in the UK fear Islam as a religion, not only its extremist elements, and a growing number feel that the country faces "a Muslim problem," a new survey has revealed. A YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph published on Friday shows that 53 percent feel threatened by Islam and see it as a threat to the West. The plot to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger airplanes discovered in the UK this month and the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London are said to be major factors behind the increase of 21% in people's fear of Islam from a similar poll in 2001. The poll has also shown that figures have nearly doubled of those agreeing that "a large proportion of British Muslims feel no sense of loyalty to this country and are prepared to condone or even carry out acts of terrorism." Only 16% believe that "practically all British Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who deplore terrorist acts as much as anyone else," a seven-point drop from 2001. While there is strong opposition to "passenger profiling" based on ethnicity or religion, a higher proportion than last year feel the police and security services should focus counterterrorism efforts on Muslims. Fewer people are worried that such an approach risks dividing the country or offending law-abiding Muslims. The on-line poll, which surveyed 1,800 people across the UK between August 22 and 24, was published the day after the government launched a commission to look at religious and ethnic integration in the UK as part of the government's response to the 7/7 terror attacks. The Commission on Integration and Cohesion will start work next month. It will focus on social cohesion and look at how communities in the UK tackle ethnic tensions and extremism.