The British Council Scotland has recently released a report on Muslim Integration in Scotland, by Amy Homes, Chris McLean and Lorraine Murray, and based upon quantitative and qualitative research undertaken by Ipsos MORI Scotland. The report, commissioned under the auspices of the Council’s ‘Our Shared Europe’ programme, is available to download at:
The focus of the study was an examination of Muslim and non-Muslim perceptions of one another and of the extent of Muslim integration in Scotland. Potential barriers to integration were also explored and ways in which these may be overcome.
The quantitative phase of the research was a series of questions included in the Ipsos MORI Scottish Public Opinion Monitor. Telephone interviews were undertaken with a representative sample of 1,006 Scots aged 18 and over between 18 and 21 February 2010. As there are relatively few Muslims in Scotland, such a random survey is essentially of non-Muslims. Findings from this phase appear on pp. 2-7, 18-27 of the report.
The qualitative phase comprised seven focus groups, three of Muslims and four of non-Muslims, in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee between 9 and 23 March 2010. Muslim groups were composed of Muslims born in Scotland and those born elsewhere but who had lived in Scotland for varying periods of time. Non-Muslim groups were made up of non-Muslims who were white Scottish and Christian or had no religion. Findings from this phase appear on pp. 8-9, 29-41 of the report.
The quantitative research is naturally of principal interest to BRIN. Key findings include the following:
- 66% of Scots held a favourable opinion of Muslims and 21% an unfavourable one. However, this favourability rating was lower than for all other religious groups, with 85% for Christians, 80% for Jews, 77% for Buddhists, 75% for Hindus, 72% for Sikhs and 71% for atheists.
- 46% of Scots considered that Muslims living in Scotland were loyal to the country and 33% not. This was a higher loyalty score than for Britain, France and Germany, as recorded in the Gallup Coexist Study of 2008.
- 48% of Scots agreed and 41% disagreed that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live there. This compared with 50% and 31% respectively in the 2006-07 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.
- 59% of Scots agreed and 28% disagreed that most Muslims in Scotland were integrated into everyday Scottish life.
- 66% agreed and 24% disagreed that the attempted bombing at Glasgow airport in 2007 had made people in Scotland less tolerant of Muslims.
- Whereas 80% of Scots agreed that Christianity was compatible with life in Scotland, only 42% said the same in relation to Islam (and 37% disagreed).
- On almost all questions, those living in the least deprived areas of Scotland, people under 55, readers of broadsheet newspapers and Liberal Democrat voters had the most positive views of Muslims and Muslim integration.
So, Islamophobia is clearly becoming something of a problem in Scotland. On the whole, however, as Clive Field’s analyses of British public opinion polls conducted between 2001 and 2010 have shown, it is perhaps still less of a challenge there than in England and Wales.