Woman with HijabMy attention was drawn to the story entitled Poll shows Muslims in Britain are the most anti-western in Europe in The Guardian a few days ago by my mother who sent the article to me, asking me what I thought. Essentially, the poll shows that while non-Muslims in the UK generally have similar attitudes towards Muslims as in the rest of Europe, the Mulsims resident in the UK are more vehemently anti-West than in other countries:

the poll found that British Muslims represented a “notable exception” in Europe, with far more negative views of westerners than Islamic minorities elsewhere on the continent

Secondly, a quick Technorati search allowed me to stumble across this blog entry from Judeosphere, detailing how the UK’s attitudes towards Israel and Palestine have remained resolutely more pro-Palestine than attitudes in France and Germany after the victory of Hamas.

So what’s actually going on here? I have to say I am quite perplexed by this. There have been no notable flashpoints against the Muslim communities in the UK, no effort to force bans on headscarves for example. Attitudes of non-Muslims have remained generally constant, even after the London bombings. Economically, Muslims are not well off in comparison to society in the UK overall, but the same economic predicament equally applies to France and Germany. Has Britain’s laissez-faire approach to integration of minorities backfired? Or is it to do with the origins of the Muslim communities – in Germany for example, the majority of the Muslims resident are of Turkish descent, but in the UK come predominantly from Commonwealth countries.


  1. My first thought is that more definitions are needed. What is meant by ‘anti-Western’? Does it mean anti liberal democracy in general? Does it mean anti what some see as the excesses of north-western European permissiveness (e.g. in the Netherlands and to some extent Britain, or at least some bits of some cities…)? Or, does it mean anti-Western with ‘western’ defined by those who continue to assert ‘our’ values aggressively in the Middle East? I think there’s a very simple possible explanation (that doesn’t discount all the other complex explanations of course). British Muslims are ‘anti-Western’ because unlike its European neighbours Britain is fighting a war against Muslims in the Middle East that has been sold to the British and American public as ‘pro-democracy’. No ‘flashpoints’, no. But a lot of very angry people. I am reminded of Blair trying to tell everyone that July 7th was not about the war. Except that Blair was in denial whereas you sound a little bit like you’d just forgotten…

  2. Efforts to ban the headscaves are not anti-muslim : they are anti_religion : this is very different.

    I concur with Manu : I guess the origin of the muslim populations account for a lot of this phenomenon.

  3. Emmanuel Vallens

    both, I think.

    Britain’s over-exagerated tolerance and community-oriented approach (what the French call “le communautarisme”) has created results similar to those in the Netherlands.

    Then, the origin of British Muslims is probably also an explanation. Islam varies a lot from country to country, and it is vastly influenced by the local culture. So Bangladeshese or Pakistanese Muslims are bound to see the world differently from Turkish or North-African Muslims.

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