- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nine percent of British Muslims told pollsters just months before the disclosure of an airline bombing plot yesterday that they think it is acceptable for religious or political groups to use violence.

That willingness to embrace violence for a political cause was strongest among young Muslims born in Britain, according to the survey.

Analysts blamed the trend on a rise of Islamic militants who, they said, have exploited grievances within isolated Muslim communities to stir up anger and resentment.

Of those questioned in the poll by NOP taken in March and April, 13 percent said they could understand why young British Muslims would want to carry out suicide operations.

The majority — 80 percent to 85 percent — disagreed with the use of violence or suicide missions.

Older Muslims, said Kamal Nawash, head of the District-based Free Muslims Coalition, grew up before radical Islam was widespread and when the prevalent ideology was a more tolerant, secular one.

In contrast, “young people have grown up in a period in which much of the ideology they have learned is exclusively Islamist,” Mr. Nawash said.

According to the NOP poll, 22 percent of the Muslims surveyed agreed that the July 2005 rush-hour bombings of London’s transit system, which killed 52 subway and bus riders, were justified because of Britain’s support for the war on terror.

Young Muslims — 31 percent, compared with 14 percent of those 45 and older — were most likely to say the attack was justified.

About 1.6 million Muslims live in Britain. Most come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and live in communities with ties that are stronger to their home countries than to Britain, said Marshall Sana of the British-based Barnabas Fund.

“You have whole communities that are sort of self-governing, who are not acculturating to the community but are becoming more distant,” said Mr. Sana, whose organization works to protect Christians around the world.

“One major exchange is religious leaders coming into Britain — they are not home-grown and educated in Western madrassas,” but rather have strong Islamist ideals, said Mr. Sana.

The poll showed that fewer than half — 44 percent — of those ages 18 to 24 described Britain as “my country.”

Although 54 percent said they would prefer to live under British law, 30 percent said they would prefer to live under Islamic law, or Shariah.

Mr. Nawash said one of the ways that Islamist leaders recruit is to focus on the popular grievances of a particular community and then tell people that Islamic law can provide a better system.

“The point is that Islamist leaders have convinced the majority of Muslims today that secularism is anti-Islam and that integrating Islam and the state is part of Islam,” Mr. Nawash said.

“The person hears the same message constantly: a Utopian alternative if they were to follow this Islamist vision, and then they are given a path to achieve it — and the path involves attacking someone, and in most instances, that will be the United States,” he said.

This kind of indoctrination, Mr. Nawash said, has been most effective in areas where large Muslim groups of the same ethnic background congregated in ghettolike situations.

In contrast, Muslim communities in the United States are ethnically diverse and more integrated into mainstream American society, he said.

“Even though they may be upset by the Mideast conflict and the U.S. position on this, in general American Muslims appreciate America immensely,” Mr. Nawash said. “Therefore, it is extremely difficult for Islamist fanatics to recruit here.”

Special correspondent Al Webb in London contributed to this report.

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