A new report published by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, based on a survey of more than 1,000 British Muslims, has found that there is little or no trade-off between being a good British citizen and having Islamic values.
The report, entitled Dual citizenship: British, Islamic or both?, examines British Muslims’ feelings of loyalty and satisfaction with life in the UK as well as their loyalty to their faith and religious laws. These distinct affiliations have sometimes been portrayed as incompatible. The authors argue that this is not the case and that government needs to recognise and understand these two sources of affiliation and implement ‘comprehensive social and political policies’ to encourage these two identities to function as complimentary elements.
Almost 80 per cent of respondents saw little or no problem in combining British citizenship and Islamic values. Whereas Muslim beliefs and practices are often portrayed as a barrier to social integration and harmony, the report suggests instead that discrimination, poor media representation and British foreign policy are the main barriers to social cohesion.
Arzu Merali, one of the report’s authors, said: ‘Hitherto we have seen a lopsided debate where prevailing prejudices about Islam and Muslims have dictated the terms of Muslim participation in society. In recent years this has been characterised by increasing pressure on Muslim beliefs and practices. This study has thrown many of these perceptions of Muslims away.
‘Based on the responses of Muslims themselves, it finds that religion is one of the main factors that has influenced a high level of loyalty amongst the UK’s Muslims despite clear feelings of discrimination and hatred being levelled against them.
‘The government needs to seriously look at Muslims’ expectations of them if they are to foster a truly inclusive, safe and just society.’