Muslims place greater importance on British and religious identity, study finds

Safya Khan-Ruf - 23 03 18

More than 80% of the Muslims in a review of survey research on Muslims in Britain, prepared by Ispos MORI, said they felt they belonged to Britain, while more than half said their national identity was important, compared with 44% of the general population.

British Muslims place greater emphasis on education and identify more strongly with their religious identity than their non-Muslim peers.

Asif Aziz, the chairman of the Aziz Foundation, which commissioned the report with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Barrow Cadbury Trust and Unbound Philanthropy, said:

“While British Muslims identify strongly with their religious identity, they are also staunchly British.”

Courtesy of the Aziz Foundation/Twitter

The report, which analysed existing data from research and opinion polls conducted since 2010, created a comprehensive picture while acknowledging that as in any other population group, there aren’t any issues on which all British Muslims agree.

Youth and Prejudice

The researchers found that 36% of 18 to 24-year-old Muslims were likely to feel they had been “often” been discriminated against, while 27% of those 55+ said they had experienced discrimination.

Islam is the second most widespread religion in Britain and according to a 2011 census, 4.4% of the UK’s population identified themselves as Muslims. Half of British Muslims are under 25 and younger Muslims are more likely to have diverse friendship groups than older Muslims.

Almost two-thirds of Muslims said they think different religious and ethnic groups should mix more.

Meanwhile, 45% of Muslims under 24 said at least half their friends are from outside their ethnic group, while those in London are more likely to have a diverse group of friends than Muslims in the rest of the country.

Muslim children have high aspirations for their educational achievement, with more than half saying it was very likely they would go to university, compared to 38% of non-Muslim children.


The vast majority of British Muslims say they would report activities supporting violent extremism to the police, although only 16% say they have come across these activities, mostly on the Internet.

A 2016 survey shows British Muslims were more likely to condemn acts of violence than the general population and that sympathy for terrorism in the general population was at 4%, compared to 2% among Muslims.

During the launch of the report this week, Maria Sobolewska, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester, said it was important not to frame polls about Muslim integration with terrorism.

Social conservativism

The study also finds the Muslims are more socially conservative. Half of the Muslim men and one-third of the women believed wives should obey their husbands and 52% believed homosexuality should be illegal.

The study notes there is a lack of robust up-to-date data on Muslim public opinion. Most of the available information was collected through research projects in which the study of Muslims was not the primary aim, or in polls commissioned in reaction to the news agenda and reflective of the context they were collected in such as after terrorist attacks.


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