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‘UK Muslim’: Nation within a nation

British Muslims are becoming a nation within a nation, according to Trevor Phillips, former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (file picture)

British Muslims are becoming a nation within a nation, the former equalities watchdog warns today.

Trevor Phillips says many hold very different values from the rest of society and want to lead separate lives.

Most worryingly, those with separatist views are far more likely to support terrorism. The former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission advocates the monitoring of ethnic minority populations on housing estates to stop them becoming ‘ghetto villages’.

He says schools may have to consider a 50 per cent limit on Muslim or other minority pupils to encourage social integration.

And he says disturbing survey findings point to a growing chasm between the attitudes of many British Muslims and their compatriots.

In a no-holds barred article for the Daily Mail ahead of a television documentary on Muslim attitudes in Britain, Mr Phillips also warns:

  • Extremist ideas have flourished while politicians claim ‘only a tiny minority hold dangerous views’;
  • An estimated 100,000 British Muslims admit having sympathy with suicide bombers fighting injustice;
  • Many believe it is divinely ordained that a woman should always obey her husband;
  • Large numbers ‘do not accept the values and behaviours that make Britain what it is’.

Mr Phillips’ intervention comes after he was asked to analyse the findings of a major survey on Muslim attitudes in the UK, which will form the basis of Channel 4’s documentary, What British Muslims Really Think, which airs on Wednesday night.

The documentary will portray the UK’s Muslims as a nation within a nation that has its own geography and values.

Mr Phillips warns of a ‘life-and-death struggle for the soul of British Islam’.

He insists: ‘The reason why our fellow Britons seem so far out of line with mainstream opinion is that too many live in a different Britain to the rest of us.’

A fifth have not entered the home of a non-Muslim in the past year. The poll found that 39 per cent of the 1,081 Muslim adult men and women questioned for the survey agreed that wives should always obey their husbands.

One in three supports the right of a man to have more than one wife, even though it is illegal in the UK. Twenty-three per cent support the introduction of sharia law.


Fifty-two per cent of the Muslims surveyed did not believe that homosexuality should be legal, and even more opposed gay marriage.

Almost half thought it was unacceptable for a gay or lesbian to teach their children.

And young Muslims were found to be nearly as far removed from the rest of British society as their elders.

Mr Phillips says most Muslims in this ‘nation-within-a-nation’ reject violence in defence of their faith.

But 4 per cent, equivalent to 100,000 British Muslims, had sympathy for those who used violent ends to defend Islam.

The equalities campaigner pointed to the recent killing of Glasgow newsagent Asad Shah by a fellow Muslim.

This life and death struggle: In a stark analysis, former equalities chief reveals how extremist ideals have been allowed to flourish

Britain is in many ways a better place than it’s ever been – more prosperous, more diverse, more liberal.

But for some of our fellow citizens, we’re heading in entirely the wrong direction. So much so that some of them would rather live under a wholly different system.

Indeed, a significant minority of Britain’s three million Muslims consider us a nation of such low morals that they would rather live more separately from their non-Muslim countrymen, preferably under sharia law.

This sobering conclusion comes from the most comprehensive survey of British Muslims ever conducted, commissioned by Channel 4.

Having been asked to examine its results, I believe it holds a grim message for all of us.

Mr Phillips, pictured, said the survey on Muslim attitudes holds a 'grim message for all of us'

There is a life-and-death struggle for the soul of British Islam – and this is not a battle that the rest of us can afford to sit out. We need to take sides.

For the most part, Britain’s Muslims share most people’s preoccupations – jobs, homes, a future for their families. Nearly nine out of ten say they feel British.

One of the reasons they like Britain is freedom to practise their religion as they see fit.

But below the surface, the pollsters told us that a ‘chasm’ was developing between the attitudes of many British Muslims and their compatriots, driven by their adherence to their faith.

More than half of Muslims think lesbian or gay relationships should be illegal. Almost a third of British Muslims think polygamy – currently illegal – should be permitted. Young Muslims are nearly as enthusiastic for it as older Muslims.

Two fifths (39 per cent) of Muslims say a woman should always obey her husband, compared to 5 per cent of non-Muslims.

These views are not regarded as old-fashioned – they are seen by those who hold them as divinely ordained.

Unfortunately, so is the Koranic injunction that a man may chastise his wife. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the instruction to ‘obey’ tells women that they should accept domestic abuse without complaint.

Finally, there’s the small matter of the Jews: 35 per cent of British Muslims – compared to 8 per cent of others – believe Jewish people have too much power in Britain.

The reason why these fellow Britons seem so far out of line with mainstream opinion is that too many live in a different Britain to the rest of us.

A fifth have not entered the home of a non-Muslim in the past year. This may not be their fault – I recall being shut out of white friends’ homes as a child – but the outcome is disastrous for integration.

Sadly, many British Muslims are keen to embrace this status. One in six would prefer to live more separately; almost a quarter would like to see areas where sharia law took precedence over British law.

Most people in this nation-within-a-nation eschew violence in defence of religion. Not all, though.

We have recently seen the murder of a leading Scottish Muslim, the killer citing ‘disrespect’ of the faith.

Four per cent – the equivalent of more than 100,000 British Muslims – told the researchers that they had sympathy for people who take part in suicide bombing to fight injustice.

Asked if they knew that someone was involved with supporting terrorism in Syria, just one in three would report it to the police.

There is one truly terrifying finding. Muslims who have separatist views about how they want to live in Britain are far more likely to support terrorism than those who do not.

And there are far too many of the former for us to feel that we can gradually defeat the threat.

Liberal-minded Muslims have been saying for some time that our live-and-let-live attitudes have allowed a climate to grow in which extremist ideas have flourished within Britain’s Muslim communities.

Our politicians have tried to reassure us that only a tiny minority hold dangerous views.

All the while, girls are shipped off to have their genitals mutilated, young women and men are being pressured into marriages they do not want, and teenagers are being seduced into donning suicide vests or becoming jihadi brides.

We have ‘understood’ too much, and challenged too little – and in doing so are in danger of sacrificing a generation of young British people to values that are antithetical to the beliefs of most of us, including many Muslims.

In my view, we have to adopt a far more muscular approach to integration than ever, replacing the failed policy of multiculturalism.

In the case of British Muslims it means ensuring that schools – such as those in the ‘Trojan Horse’ case in Birmingham where hardliners tried to impose an Islamist agenda – are not taken over by any single minority group.

That could mean changing catchment areas, as has taken place in Oldham, much to the town’s benefit; or even limiting the presence of any ethnic minority group to no more than 50 per cent.

It will mean strict monitoring of the ethnic composition of housing estates to prevent them becoming ‘ghetto villages’, little islands separate from the rest of their districts.

It will mean political parties no longer turning a blind eye to appalling misdemeanours in return for votes from community leaders – so-called silence-for-votes deals which created havoc in Rotherham and Rochdale and contributed to the grooming scandals in those towns.

Some will find such steps distasteful. One Left-wing commentator has already claimed that our analysis reveals attitudes no different from those of elderly white Britons – or indeed some Conservatives.

This entirely underestimates the seriousness of what Britain’s Muslims are telling us.

Muslims want to be part of Britain – but many do not accept the values and behaviours that make Britain what it is; they believe that Islam offers a better future.

And a small number feel that these sincerely held beliefs justify attempts to destroy our democracy.

Britain’s liberal Muslims are crying out for this challenge to be confronted.

The complacency we’ve displayed so far is leaving them to fight alone, and putting our society in danger. We cannot continue to sit on the fence in the hope that the problem will go away.


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