poll: British Asians uneasy over Iraq

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 16:01:42 -0000

 Tony Blair

Tony Blair: Warned over Iraq, but also admired


By Dominic Casciani 
BBC News Online community affairs reporter      
A survey conducted for the BBC reveals fears among British Asians over a
possible war on Iraq - but also admiration for Tony Blair. 
November is an important month of reflection within Britain's Asian
communities. Sikhs and Hindus look back at the past year and contemplate
the next during Divali on 4 November. Two days later, the country's
Muslims will begin a month of fasting for Ramadan. 

One of the issues that will perhaps concentrate minds more so this year
is the possibility of war with Iraq. And with appropriate timing, the
BBC's Asian Network (newly launched on national digital radio this week)
has sought to find out what Asians in Britain think. 

 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/asiannetwork/> BBC Asian Network
More on the survey 

According to the results, 61% of those polled said they disapproved of
how Tony Blair has been handling the Iraq situation to date. 

This may not come as a surprise to many, given the current level of
public unease already voiced. But when compared with a recent survey of
all Britons carried out by Mori, it suggests that the country's Asian
groups are more critical of policy than the white population. 

Q: Is there more or less racial prejudice than five years ago? 

More now: 33% 
Less now: 19% 
The same: 34% 
Don't know 
Refused: 1% 
This supports anecdotal evidence that has emerged over the summer, most
significantly from within the UK's Muslim population. 

Community leaders have warned of growing concerns over the prospect of
war, for two reasons. Firstly, Asian groups in Britain - not just
Muslims - have suffered fallout in the wake of September 11 with a
reported increase in racism. 

They fear that war will bring more of the same. Secondly, and among
Muslims in particular, there is a fear of where exactly the war on
terror is headed. 

Iqbal Sacaranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, is not known for
overly controversial comments. But on the anniversary of September 11 he
told Tony Blair not to underestimate the distaste that many Muslims feel
for American policy - and warned that he did not want the UK to become
seen in the same dim light. 

Radical groups 

Six out of 10 of those surveyed said they would support a ban of Muslims
groups described as extremist. Among the Muslims polled, 55% support a

 President George W Bush
President Bush: Some persuading to do

It is fair to say that many Asian community leaders are exasperated by
what they regard as persistent generalisations over where they stand on
this particular issue. 

One northern Imam said: "The whole extremist thing is a bad joke.
There's this feeling that Muslims sympathise with extremists. It's like
saying all white people think the British National Party is fair-minded.
We just can't understand why this is so hard to appreciate." 

He went on to suggest that the figure supporting a ban would have been
perhaps higher if the issue of exactly what is an "extremist" could be

For instance, 9,000 people recently attended a London conference on
"Muslims in the West". Governments consider the organisers, Hizb
ut-Tahrir, to be extremists. But the audience at the London Arena
included a large number of families on a day out: all of those we
interviewed on the day were horrified at the suggestion that they were
somehow a threat to the UK just by being there. 


When it comes to figures worth admiring, the results are quite stark. In
line with similar general polls, politicians figure far lower than
actors or sports stars (the most admired figure in this case being film
star Amitabh Bachchan). 

 Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan: Most admired

The most admired politician among those polled was Tony Blair. Even
though there is a majority concerned over his handling of Iraq, 21% of
respondents placed him in their list of most admired people - placing
him joint fourth in the league table with actress Aishwaria Rai. 

Home Secretary David Blunkett, who recently sparked controversy among
British Asians by suggesting they should speak English at home, won the
admiration of only 4%. President George W Bush scored 3% and
Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith picked up 1% of the vote. 

A number of questions revealed important facets of Asian Britain that
sometimes goes unnoticed by the white majority - this is not one single
community. Half of those polled said their views of the Muslim community
had not changed since 11 September. 

But a quarter of those polled said they now viewed Muslims less
favourably than before, revealing undercurrents that largely go

Secondly, two-thirds believed that young British Asians belonged more to
the UK than to the South Asian nations of their parents and

On matters of integration, 46% said immigrants should adopt the "culture
and lifestyle" of Britain. A slightly lower figure, 42%, agreed that
immigrants should be encouraged to speak English at home. 


Mori interviewed 507 Asians in Britain for the BBC Asian Network between
5 and 15 October. Data was weighted to match the known population

Source: BBC Online


You can choose whether you prefer to receive regular emails or a weekly
digest by visiting  <http://www.muslim-news.net/>


Archive:  <http://archive.muslim-news.net/>


You can subscribe by sending an email to request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with
the word "subscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line, or by
visiting  <http://www.muslim-news.net/> http://www.muslim-news.net


You can unsubscribe by sending an email to request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with
the word "unsubscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line, or by
visiting  <http://www.muslim-news.net/> http://www.muslim-news.net


You are welcome to submit any relevant news story to


For regular Islamic cultural articles by email, send email to



JPEG image

GIF image

GIF image

GIF image

GIF image

JPEG image

JPEG image

Other related posts:

  • » poll: British Asians uneasy over Iraq