British Muslims and Antisemitism

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of and response to polling of British Muslims on their attitudes towards Jews and antisemitism.

Foreword

For at least twenty years, the British Jewish community has been out in front when it comes to interfaith work. As Britain’s Muslim population has grown, British Jews assumed that interfaith models that led to huge advances in relations with British Christians, could apply just as well to relations with British Muslims. Indeed building bridges with British Muslims has become the focus of outreach work by British Jews.

Today, our analysis of the ICM survey of British Muslims for Channel 4 and Juniper Television shows that the gradual buildup of understanding and friendship between Britain’s Jews and Muslims has been utterly eclipsed by growing antisemitism amongst British Muslims.

On every single count, British Muslims were more likely by far than the general British population to hold deeply antisemitic views. It is clear that many British Muslims reserve a special hatred for British Jews, rating Jews much less favourably than people of other religions or no religion, yet astonishingly British Muslims largely do not recognise antisemitism as a major problem.

It has long been suspected that sections of the British Muslim population harboured hatred towards British Jews. This survey goes some way to identifying pockets of prejudice, but it also shows that the prejudice is horrifyingly widespread.

From the ICM survey data made available by Channel 4 and Juniper Television, we have been able to identify some of the worst pockets of prejudice. Antisemitic British Muslims are more likely to be men, to be older than 35, to be social renters, to be in employment, to have been born outside Britain, to live south of the Midlands in England, or in Scotland, and they are overwhelmingly likely to sympathise with terrorism, violence and extremism.

The data is frustratingly limited in one some respects, and one in particular: it does not delve into the various political and religious movements that comprise the British Muslim population.

This data shows that Jews remain the ‘canary in the coal mine’, as they have been throughout history: those who harbour hatred of Jews also hate British society and sympathise with our most deadly enemies. Britain must confront rampant antisemitism within its Muslim population, but also amongst the general population, whose shocking views should be no less concerning simply because the views of British Muslims are worse.

Beliefs about Jews

ICM asked their representative samples of British Muslims and the general British public what they thought of Jews. ICM gave respondents an antisemitic statement to agree or disagree with. The graphs below show the percentage of British Muslims and the general British public agreeing with each statement.

These results show a shocking level of antisemitism among British Muslims, which is considerably and dangerously higher than the already troubling level of antisemitism among the general British public. The polling data reveals that old-fashioned conspiracies about Jews having too much power in finance, business, politics and the media are not only alive in the Muslim population, but thriving.

These sorts of conspiracies can lead to dangerous persecution of Jewish people, and highlight some of the unique features of antisemitism: while most forms of racism discriminate against a minority group by suggesting their inferiority, antisemitism has long suggested that Jewish people are engaged in manipulation and control of others, promoting the notion that they sit above general society and force it to act against its own interests for the benefit of Jews. Thus the ideas revealed here as having very significant support among British Muslims — that Jews cause wars, demand excessive sympathy for the Holocaust, have a greater loyalty towards Israel than Britain, etc. — help to perpetuate a climate in which British Muslims may harbour a negative and aggressive attitude towards their Jewish countrymen.

As the Prime Minister made clear in his keynote speech on extremism in Birmingham in July 2015, these views (which many had suspected to be mainstream in Muslim society, and now are proven to be statistically common) are a gateway to extremist or terrorist action which can frequently target Jews and others. At the time, he said:

When you look in detail at the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were first influenced by what some would call non-violent extremists. It may begin with hearing about the so-called Jewish conspiracy and then develop into hostility to the West and fundamental liberal values, before finally becoming a cultish attachment to death. Put another way, the extremist world view is the gateway, and violence is the ultimate destination.”

Jewish people have too much power in Britain
British Muslims 35%
All Britons 9%
Jewish people have too much power over the government
British Muslims 31%
All Britons 7%
Jewish people have too much power over the media
British Muslims 39%
All Britons 10%
Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country
British Muslims 42%
All Britons 24%
Jews have too much power in the business world
British Muslims 44%
All Britons 18%
Jews have too much power in international financial markets
British Muslims 40%
All Britons 16%
Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust
British Muslims 34%
All Britons 18%
Jews don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind
British Muslims 34%
All Britons 11%
Jews have too much control over global affairs
British Muslims 38%
All Britons 10%
Jews think they are better than other people
British Muslims 30%
All Britons 11%
Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars
British Muslims 26%
All Britons 6%
People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave
British Muslims 27%
All Britons 11%

Profile of British Muslim antisemitism

The following charts and heat map show the average percentage of British Muslims from each demographic who agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given. Bars or regions shown in grey scored below the average of 35%, which means that British Muslims from demographics or groupings shown in grey were less likely to be antisemitic than other British Muslims.

  • Antisemitic British Muslims are more likely to be men, to be older than 35, to be social renters, to be in employment, to have been born outside Britain, to live south of the Midlands in England, or in Scotland, and they are overwhelmingly likely to sympathise with terrorism, violence and extremism.
  • On average, British Muslim men agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 39% of the time, versus 33% of the time for British Muslim women.
  • Older British Muslims were more likely to agree with the antisemitic statements they were given than younger British Muslims. For example, British Muslims aged 18–24 agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 31% of the time, versus 41% of the time for British Muslims aged 65 and over.
  • On average, British Muslims born abroad agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 40% of the time, versus 29% of the time for British Muslims who were born here.
  • On average, British Muslims who are working agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 39% of the time, versus 32% of the time for British Muslims who are not working.
  • On average, British Muslims living south of the Midlands in England or in Scotland were more likely to agree with the antisemitic statements they were given. In Scotland, 47% of Muslims agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given, 18% in the North East, 16% in the North West, 25% in Yorkshire and the Humber, 16% in the East Midlands, 24% in the West Midlands, 22% in Wales, 65% in the East of England, 43% in London, 53% in the South East and 57% in the South West.
  • On average, British Muslims in social class AB agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 36% of the time, versus 38% of the time for British Muslims in social class C1, 31% of the time for British Muslims in social class C2, and 36% of the time for British Muslims in social class DE.
  • On average, British Muslims who are social renters agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 42% of the time, versus 38% of the time for British Muslims who are renting privately and 32% of the time for British Muslims who own their own home.
  • On average, British Muslims who expressed sympathy for terror agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 57% of the time, versus 36% of the time for British Muslims who condemn terror.
  • On average, British Muslims who expressed sympathy for violence agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 47% of the time, versus 34% of the time for British Muslims who are against violence.
  • On average, British Muslims who expressed sympathy for extremism agreed with the antisemitic statements they were given 47% of the time, versus 33% of the time for British Muslims who are against extremism.

Community relations

ICM asked their representative samples of British Muslims and the general British public whether they felt favourably or unfavourably disposed towards different religious groups by giving a score out of 100, where 0 was very unfavourable, 50 was neutral, and 100 was very favourable.

British Muslims

British Muslims gave Jews an average favourability score of 57.1, versus an average of 69.4 for people of other religions or no religion. The bright green to the left of the graph shows the degree to which British Muslims view Jews more unfavourably than other groups, and the red area to the right of the graph shows how much more favourably British Muslims see groups other than Jews.

All Britons

The general British population gave Jews an average favourability score of 63.7, versus an average of 63.9 for people of other religions or no religion. The general British population is slightly more likely to be neither favourably nor unfavourably disposed towards Jewish people than they are to be particularly favourable or unfavourable, as compared against people of other religions or no religion.

Awareness of antisemitism

ICM asked their representative samples of British Muslims and the general British public whether they felt that antisemitism is a problem in Britain. They also asked British Muslims how many Jews died in the Holocaust.

Antisemitism is a problem in Britain
British Muslims 26%
All Britons 46%
How many Jews died in the Holocaust?

Only British Muslims were polled on this question.

Methodology

Campaign Against Antisemitism has analysed research undertaken by ICM Unlimited for Channel 4 and Juniper Television. We were not involved in the production of the research, and have not influenced its methodology.

Two surveys were undertaken: a survey of a representative sample of British Muslims and a representative survey of a sample of the general British population. ICM conducted face-to-face interviews of 1,081 British Muslims aged over 18 between 25th April and 31st May 2015. They then conducted telephone interviews of 1,008 members of the general British public aged over 18 between 5th June and 7th June 2015. In both cases, the data was weighted by age, gender, region and work status, to ensure that it was as representative as possible. The data was released in April 2016 in advance of a Channel 4 television programme based on the data.

The analysis in this document does not make up part of the Channel 4 programme; it represents a close reading of the ICM polling data with a view to better understanding the specific issue of Muslim antisemitism in Britain.