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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
UK majority back multiculturalism
Friday prayers at East London mosque
Many believe multiculturalism improves UK society
The majority of British people think multiculturalism makes the country a better place, a BBC poll suggests.

But 32% think it "threatens the British way of life" and 54% think "parts of the country don't feel like Britain any more because of immigration".

The Mori poll for the BBC also suggests the 7 July bomb attacks have not led to an upsurge in racial intolerance.

The survey questioned 1,004 people in the UK. A booster survey of 204 British Muslims was conducted for comparison.

Source: BBC/ MORI

The overwhelming majority of Muslims - 89% - said they feel proud when British teams do well in international competitions, a similar figure to the national population.

And the survey suggests broad agreement between the two groups on immigrants being made to learn English and accept the authority of British institutions.

Ben Page, director of Mori's social research institute, said: "The survey shows that despite 7/7, the majority of both white British people and Muslims share a common level of allegiance to Britain and its institutions and seem very tolerant of each other, in contrast to media reporting following the London bombing.

"They support the expulsion of those who promote terror, and the use of measures like house arrest, but both groups are more divided over any fundamental changes to civil liberties as a reaction to 7/7, such as trial without jury, or detention with trial."


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But the survey suggests a more "confused" attitude to the concept of multiculturalism, Mr Page added.

Some 62% of the national population believe "multiculturalism makes Britain a better place to live", according to the poll.

At the same time, 58% thought "people who come to live in Britain should adopt the values of and traditions of British culture".

'Terrorists failed'

Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis said the findings about racial tolerance were "extremely positive".

It also showed that people did not want a "multiculturalist policy" where some communities are encouraged to stay separate and shun integration, he said.

Source: BBC/MORI

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said the poll showed the terrorists and "race hate mongers" did not represent Britain. Those who thought it fashionable to bash multiculturalism should think again, she said.

Head of the Muslim Council of Britain Sir Iqbal Sacranie said that, although the general trend appeared to be positive, the recent rise in race hate attacks meant Britain should not be complacent.

"Together, all of us - the police, government - need to look and view this issue in a very pragmatic manner.

"There's an issue of criminality that exists - it's not the entire community that should be denigrated or maligned."

Among Muslims, 87% thought multiculturalism improved British society, but only 28% thought people coming from abroad should adopt British culture and values.

Both groups disagreed strongly with the suggestion that the policy of multiculturalism had failed and should be abandoned.

Source: BBC/MORI

But on the issue of Muslim students wearing headscarves opinion was more divided, with 35% of non-Muslims saying they should be made to remove them, compared to 16% of Muslims.

Only 2% of the national population described themselves as "very racially prejudiced", but Mr Page said the survey's other findings suggest a "substantial minority of British people are not tolerant".

But a third said they thought Islam was "incompatible with the values of British democracy".

According to the survey, 74% of Muslims think Britain should deport or exclude foreigners who encourage terrorism, compared with 91% of the population as a whole.

Poll results were based on a nationally representative sample of 1,004 GB adults aged 16 and over, with the data weighted to reflect the population profile.

In addition, 204 interviews were conducted among Muslims - 112 with people who had agreed to be re-contacted from previous surveys and 92 using random digit dialling - with the data weighted to reflect the Muslim population profile.

All interviews were conducted on 8 and 9 August 2005.

British Muslims give their reaction to the survey results

How multicultural is Britain?
09 Aug 05 |  Have Your Say
Davis attacks UK multiculturalism
03 Aug 05 |  UK Politics


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