Views on Jews are often skewed

April 27, 2016 12:51

On the face of it, the recent poll of contemporary British Muslim attitudes makes for grim reading. Carried out by ICM for Channel 4, the survey found:

● 52 per cent of respondents disagreed that "homosexuality should be legal in Britain"

● 39 per cent agreed that "wives should always obey their husbands"

● 31 per cent agreed that it's "acceptable" for a British Muslim to have more than one wife

● 23 per cent would support the primacy of Sharia law over British law in certain areas

Worrying, yes, but it all needs to be put in perspective

● five per cent sympathised with those who take part in the stoning of adulterers

These percentages are indeed far higher than those of a control group of the general population. But leaving aside any analysis of the manner in which the survey was conducted, let's clothe these results in sensible perspective. The questions relating to homosexuality were fundamentally flawed. Homosexuality has never been illegal in this country. Between 1533 and 1967 it was homosexual acts between consenting males which were illegal. What slightly over half of the Muslim respondents probably disagreed with was the 1967 decriminalisation of these consensual acts. It's a reasonable assumption that almost half the Muslim respondents support the 1967 reform. But because the question was sloppily worded, we'll never know.

Other responses are surely typical of more conservatively-inclined groups in Britain today. On the matter of wives obeying their husbands, we need to remember that, until 1980, the Anglican marriage service required the bride to "love, cherish and obey" her intended husband.

Turning to polygamy, I have never been able to understand why those loudmouths who bang the table and demand "equal marriage" do not support consensual polygamous (or, for that matter, polyandrous) relationships.

And may I remind you at this point that polygamy is specifically sanctioned by Orthodox halachah? On the statutes of Sharia law, there are some areas of London, Manchester and Gateshead where, in practice and within Charedi communities, halachah already has primacy over British law.

As for the five per cent who apparently support the stoning of adulterers, this is statistically insignificant.

Much has been made in the media about certain outcomes of the ICM survey that touch upon British-Muslim attitudes towards Jews. Here are the headlines:

● 44 per cent of respondents agreed "Jews have too much power in the business world"

● 42 per cent agreed that "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country"

● 39 per cent agreed that "Jewish people have too much power over the media"

● 26 per cent agreed that "Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars"

Again, on the face of it, these are very worrying results. But, again, we must put them in perspective. Ten years ago, Populus carried out a poll of Muslim attitudes commissioned by several Jewish communal bodies.

That poll found that 58 per cent of British Jews "always defend the state of Israel whether its actions are right or wrong"; that 53 per cent of British Jews "have too much influence over the direction of UK foreign policy"; and that 46 per cent of British Jews "are in league with the Freemasons to control the media and politics."

We cannot make a direct comparison between the Populus and ICM surveys because the questions were not identical. Nonetheless, I would conclude that - though still a cause for concern - there has been an improvement in British Muslim attitudes to Jews over the past decade.

That said, the ICM poll was apparently conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,081 adults, but only in areas where Muslims made up at least one-fifth of the population.

As a result, nearly half of British Muslims were simply not eligible to be included. Polling research has shown that, where face-to-face interviews are conducted, the responses obtained are inevitably skewed depending on the sex, race and ethnic identity of the interviewer.

So, whatever way we look at the ICM poll, we need to take the results, bad or good, with a large pinch of koshering salt!

April 27, 2016 12:51

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