A study conducted by the Open Society Institute, its founder and chairman is billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros, has found that Europe's most patriotic Muslims are in the U.K.
The Open Society Institute study, in which 2,200 Muslims in 11 European cities participated, reveals, the London Times reports, that 49 percent of Muslims in France see themselves as French, with only 23 percent of Muslims in Germany feeling patriotic towards the country in which they live.
Despite more than 25 percent of Muslims in certain parts of the U.K. stating that they do not feel British, East London was one area where feelings of "Britishness" were at their lowest, it was discovered that on average 78 percent of Muslims do identify themselves as British. And the more religious amongst the interviewees were no less patriotic than those for whom their religion is perhaps not such a central part of their lives.
In May the Independent reported on research conducted by Gallup and the Coexist Foundation during which 1,500 of the U.K.'s 2.4 million Muslims were interviewed.
On that occasion 77 percent of the interviewees said that they "strongly identified" with the U.K. and 82 percent spoke of their loyalty to the country. In contrast only 50 percent of the general public said that they "strongly identified" with the U.K.
The study earlier in the year revealed also significant differences between Muslims in the U.K. and the general public on social issues. For example 58 percent of the British public consider homosexuality to be morally acceptable, but not one of the Muslims interviewed shared that view. The question of sex outside marriage saw an even bigger difference between the views of the general public and the U.K.'s Muslims.
That gulf on social issues was not so great in France and Germany where Muslims are or their ancestors were predominantly from North Africa, rather than the Indian subcontinent, where many U.K. Muslims have their roots and the culture tends to be more conservative.
Returning to the survey carried out by the Open Society Institute it appears that Muslims born in the U.K. possess the greatest feelings of "Britishness". In Leicester, a city in the English East Midlands, 94 percent of Muslims born in the U.K. spoke of feeling British, with 72 percent of those born abroad feeling the same way.
Muslims in France may feel less patriotic because of the ban there on students wearing the hijab (headscarf) in class or the greater emphasis that the country places on a secular society. The London Times highlights France's sometimes difficult relationships with its former colonies and the fact that many French people reportedly view Islam as incompatible with their society, possible reasons why U.K. Muslims are more patriotic than their French counterparts.
However IslamOnline.net quotes a 2007 survey by the Financial Times which indicated the suspicion with which many Britons view Muslims.
The relatively recent introduction of citizenship for Muslims in Germany is cited as a reason for the low numbers of Muslims who declare themselves German.
IslamOnline.net mentions too a BBC survey confirming that a majority of British Muslims oppose the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and would defend their country from attack, and an ICM/Guardian survey which found that 91 percent of Muslims in the U.K. are loyal to the U.K. and 80 percent want to live in and embrace Western society.
Commenting on the study and the views of Muslims in the U.K., another of the study's findings was that over half of those interviewed have seen a rise in religious and racial discrimination in Europe in recent years, its Director Nazia Hussain explained:There is a disturbing message that emerges from these findings. Even though Muslims overwhelmingly feel British, they’re not seen as British by wider society. That said ... there has been a policy of trying to accommodate difference here and it appears to be paying off