Yesterday’s Times carried a report conducted within Muslim communities across Europe. The indications are that British Muslims the most patriotic in Europe, although than a quarter in some parts of the country still do not feel British.
The report, funded by George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist, found that on average 78% of Muslims identified themselves as British. This compares with 49% of Muslims who consider themselves French and just 23% who feel German.
The findings, based on more than 2,000 detailed interviews, suggest that Muslims may be better integrated in Britain than in other parts of the European Union.
The report appears to contradict previous research in the UK suggesting some Muslims are failing to embrace British values. A Populus poll in 2006 claimed that 7% of British Muslims believed suicide attacks on fellow civilians could be justified. The debate about the integration of Europe’s 20m Muslims was thrown into sharp relief last month when the Swiss controversially voted to ban the building of new minarets.
Many Europeans worry that aspects of Islam clash with their own values. The Soros study, however, found that strength of religious belief made no difference to how patriotic Muslims feel. Conducted over two and a half years, the report involved 2,200 in-depth interviews and 60 focus groups in 11 cities across Europe with large Muslim communities. The cities were chosen to be representative of varying levels of integration and cohesion across the continent.
The survey found (perhaps unsurprisingly) that levels of patriotism are much higher among second-generation Muslims. In Leicester, 72% of Muslims born abroad said they felt British; this figure jumped to 94% among UK-born Muslims.
Although a small minority of British Muslims have fallen under the influence of Islamic radicals, the survey indicates that Muslims here, like other immigrants, assimilate. The stupid or evil acts of the small minority focused on while the everyday business of the great majority is ignored but then that is the desire of those with agendas on both sides.