Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the terror attacks on the United States, usually credited to al-Qaeda, in which almost 3,000 people perished. The legacy of that day continues to be felt in numerous ways, including – in Britain – in persisting negative attitudes to Islam and Muslims.
This is borne out in a special ‘9/11 – ten years on’ survey undertaken by YouGov on 6 and 7 September 2011 among an online sample of 1,947 adult Britons aged 18 and over. The full data tabulations are available at:
Asked about their perceptions of the relationship of British Muslims with terrorism, 15% of respondents claimed that a large proportion of British Muslims felt no sense of loyalty to this country and were prepared to condone or even carry out terrorist acts. This was only three points down on the figure for 22-24 August 2006, one year after 7/7, the terrorist attacks on London’s transport network.
The number was higher among Conservative voters (18%) than Liberal Democrats (7%), men (16%) than women (13%), the over-40s (16%) than the under-25s (11%), manual workers (18%) than non-manuals (12%), with a regional peak of 18% in the Midlands and Wales.
A further 63% acknowledged that, while the great majority of British Muslims were peaceful and law-abiding, there was a dangerous minority who exhibited disloyalty and sympathy for terrorism. Just 17% stated that practically all British Muslims were peaceful and law-abiding who deplored acts of terrorism. 5% expressed no opinion.
Given these perceptions, it is unsurprising that 63% of adults (a mere 2% less than in 2006) wished to see Britain’s security services focus their intelligence-gathering and terrorism-prevention efforts on Muslims living in or seeking to enter this country, on the grounds that, although most Muslims were not terrorists most terrorists threatening Britain were Muslim. This view was held by three-quarters of the over-60s and Conservative voters.
Moreover, a slight majority (51%, compared with 53% in 2006) considered that Islam itself – as distinct from Islamic fundamentalist groups – posed a major or some threat to Western liberal democracy, rising to 65% of Conservatives and 60% of the over-60s. Only 13% thought that Islam posed no threat at all.
It is a measure of Britons’ continuing fears of ‘Islamic terrorism’ that, despite the current Coalition Government’s military assistance to the Libyan rebels who have all but toppled the oppressive regime of Colonel Gadaffi, 49% still justify the policy of the previous Labour administration of exchanging security information on Islamic extremism and al-Qaeda with Gadaffi. Fewer than one-quarter are critical of the policy.
This last finding emerges from a separate YouGov survey for today’s Sunday Times, in which 2,724 British adults were interviewed online on 8 and 9 September 2011. Detailed results have been posted at: