From ‘Britain’s Dangerous New Tribalism’, my latest column for the International New York Times:
This exodus to Syria has led non-Muslims to point an accusing finger at Muslim communities. Last month, the prime minister, David Cameron, condemned those who, though not violent, ‘buy into’ the prejudices of Islamism and ‘quietly condone’ the actions of the Islamic State. A poll published last week found that 56 percent of Britons thought that Islam posed a threat to Western liberal democracy, a figure 10 points higher than a decade ago.
Surveys of Muslim opinion may seem to confirm such perceptions. A poll earlier this year showed that more than a quarter of British Muslims had some sympathy for the motives behind the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed by two gun-wielding Islamists. More than one in 10 thought the magazine deserved to be attacked for lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. A 2006 poll found that 40 percent of Muslims would welcome Shariah law in Britain.
At the same time, Muslim activists say that anti-Muslim attacks have skyrocketed in recent years. Figures from the Metropolitan Police in 2014 indicated that hate crimes against Muslims had risen by 65 percent in the previous 12 months. Mehdi Hasan, a prominent Muslim commentator, wrote recently of the ‘relentless hostility towards Muslims’.
All this might suggest a nation polarized between alienated Muslims and non-Muslims hostile to Islam. The reality is otherwise.
Read the full article in the International New York Times.
The photo is of the 7/7 memorial in London’s Hyde Park.