15th May 2021

France most at ease with Muslim population

Britons are more suspicious of Muslims than citizens of other big EU states while the French appear the most at ease with their Muslim population, according to a new poll.

The survey - conducted by the Harris agency for the Financial Times and published on Monday (20 August) - suggests that the British have hardened their attitudes towards Muslim inhabitants of their country after the 2005 London bomb attacks.

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  • The Britons emerged as the most suspicious of Muslim communities, according the poll (Photo: PBS)

Compared with French, German, Italian, Spanish and US citizens interviewed for the poll, Britons are the most likely to expect a "major terrorist attack" in their country within a year (52 %), and consider Muslims as a threat to their national security (38%).

The largest group among the UK respondents (46 %) claimed that Muslims have too much political influence in their country while less people than in other countries admitted that this particular religious group had become "the subject of unjustified criticism."

On the other hand, it is mostly US and German citizens - just ahead the British - that would object to their child marrying a Muslim partner.

Concerning the UK's attitudes, Erik Bleich from Middlebury College in Vermont, commented for the FT, that the poll shows British people "are turning away from the more progressive or multicultural approach to diversity that has prevailed there for decades."

In contrast, French citizens come out as the most Muslim-friendly from the online poll carried out this August among 6,398 adults.

They showed the lowest percentage (21%) of people considering Muslims as a threat to their society and the largest percentage among the countries polled (52%) saying the Muslim community has been criticised unfairly by the majority population.

"In France we are very good at cultural integration. We are very bad in fighting discrimination, especially in high-level jobs. In the UK it is the opposite," said Patrick Weil, political scientist at the University of Paris.

The poll has also revealed different views over the place of religion in public sphere across Europe.

Mainly in France but also in Britain, it is considered primarily a private matter, with less than a quarter of the two countries' citizens favouring the idea of faith schools or religious objects in schools and workplaces.

Spanish, Italian and American respondents however, showed more understanding and enthusiasm for such ideas.

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