Monday June 15, 2015

Poll on eve of Ramadan shows ‘hugely negative’ view of Muslims and sharp decline in support for refugees

 

  • Survey reveals a dramatic hardening of views towards refugees, with the number of people saying Britain should not welcome them increasing by almost a third compared to a year ago
  • Amongst expected terms such as faith and prayer, terrorism and extremism are amongst UK public’s most dominant perceptions of Muslims
  • Islamic Relief says generous British Muslims should be celebrated, not demonised

 

As Islamic Relief welcomes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a high-profile dinner in London on June 15, a YouGov poll has revealed that associations of terrorism and extremism are all too common amongst public perceptions of Muslims. The results also suggest a decline in public sympathy for refugees and a particular lack of regard for refugees from the Middle East.

 

Answers that received 5% or more when asked “What THREE words/ phrases do you associate with the term ‘Muslim’?” (n=6,641 UK adults aged 18+):

Answer(coded from verbatim answers)

% mentioning as part of 3 words/phrases

Terrorism

12%

Faith

11%

Mosque

9%

Koran

8%

Religious

8%

Islam

6%

Extremist

5%

Allah

5%

Mohamed

5%

Prayer

5%

Misogynist

5%

 

“The results of this poll are extremely worrying because they show that public attitudes towards Muslims are hugely negative and attitudes towards refugees have hardened significantly,” says Islamic Relief’s UK Director, Jehangir Malik, who will speak at tonight’s dinner alongside Zac Goldsmith (MP for Richmond) and Mary Creagh (Shadow Secretary of State for International Development).

 

“Over 30 million refugees and others in the Middle East are in need of humanitarian aid, and the British Muslim community gives very generously to support charities in the forefront of delivering aid in places like Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Iraq – particularly during Ramadan. It’s time we celebrated the role British Muslims play as part of the solution rather than demonising the Muslim community as part of the problem.”

 

Commenting, Mary Creagh MP said:

 

“Islam is a diverse faith and I want to celebrate the work of Islamic Relief and the generosity of British Muslims, particularly during Ramadan. Muslim charities play a vital role in delivering aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable people in some of the world’s most dangerous places. The crises in Syria and Iraq, South Sudan and the Central African Republic have created the largest refugee crisis since World War Two. I have pressed government Ministers to fully engage with the UN and to offer sanctuary to more Syrian refugees.”

 

 

 

Jehangir Malik will make an impassioned defence of the British Muslim community in his speech at London’s Middle Temple Hall, highlighting the vital role that Muslim charities play in delivering aid in conflict and in hard-to-reach places.

 

The holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week, is a time when Muslims reflect on the blessings they have received and commit to helping those less fortunate. British Muslims donate more than £100 million to charity in Ramadan alone, and Islamic Relief’s Ramadan Appeal raised a record £19 million last year – including a £5 million donation from the UK Government. Jehangir Malik is set to announce another major donor for Islamic Relief’s 2015 appeal at tonight’s dinner.

 

 

The poll findings published today are based on a survey conducted in the first week of June 2015 (6,641 respondents) and a similar period a year ago (5,216 respondents).

 

Key findings include:

 

  • A sharp decline in sympathy for refugees. In 2014 only 31% of those surveyed believed the UK should not provide refuge to those fleeing conflict and persecution – compared to 40% in favour. This year those against offering refuge outnumber those in favour – 42% compared to 34%.
  • Negative perceptions of Muslims. When YouGov asked this month which three words or phrases people most associate with the term ‘Muslim’, the responses included some extremely negative associations with the survey’s top answer being “terrorism” (12%).
  • Only 29% of people agreed that the UK should provide refuge to people fleeing conflict and persecution in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. This compares to 34% of the sample who would provide refuge to refugees generally. 47% of the sample did not believe we should offer refuge to those fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

Islamic Relief is concerned that if negative public perceptions about Muslims and Middle Eastern refugees go unchallenged, global sympathy and support for those caught in conflict will decline at a time when humanitarian needs are enormous and UN budgets are chronically underfunded.

ends

 

To arrange interviews or for more information contact: Anthony Gale on 0207-593 3218/ 07534-903812  (anthony.gale@islamic-relief.org.uk) or Martin Cottingham on 0207 593 3251 / 07702-940982  (martin.cottingham@islamic-relief.org.uk). 

 

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Notes to editors

 

  1. Islamic Relief is an international aid and development agency and the world’s largest independent Muslim charity. It works to alleviate poverty and suffering in over 30 countries – mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities – regardless of race, religion or gender.
  2. The theme of Islamic Relief’s Ramadan Appeal in 2015 is ‘Share Your Relief’. It encourages UK Muslims to reflect on the relief they feel at iftar – the late evening meal at which the long daily Ramadan fast is broken – and give generously to support those less fortunate. ‘When we stop fasting, they don’t,’ explain the charity’s campaign advertisements.
  3. Islamic Relief’s Ramadan Appeal will benefit poor communities in over 30 countries, through projects that include:
  • Provision of medical equipment, medicine and incubators in Gaza, as well as training for doctors and nurses in specialist neo-natal care.
  • Buying and equipping mobile health clinics to visit Syrian refugee camps and provide vital medical supplies and treatments. Islamic Relief has assisted over 7 million Syrians driven from their homes inside Syria or forced to flee to neighbouring countries.
  • A range of projects benefiting children, including child-friendly villages in Sudan (equipped with libraries and child friendly spaces) and a mentoring programme providing education for Indian street children and vocational training for their parents.

 

  1. More details of Islamic Relief’s response to the Syrian crisis and this year’s Ramadan campaign can be found at www.islamic-relief.org.uk. Islamic Relief’s YouTube channel features the ‘Share Your Relief’ Ramadan campaign advertisement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ukM-4dyUgM).
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 6,641 adults (2015) and 5,216 adults (2014). Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 9th June 2015 and previously 18th – 25th June 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
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