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Why British Muslims are opting for segregation

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In this comment piece, Christian Concern’s Director of Islamic Affairs, Tim Dieppe, discusses findings from ICM’s survey, some of which were highlighted in a Channel 4 documentary this week.

Tim demonstrates how the findings are a stark indicator that a "significant proportion" of British Muslims have no desire to integrate into British society – and how this doctrine of segregation is clearly instructed in the Qur'an. He also explores some of the solutions posed by Trevor Phillips, stating that we need to act now. 


The Survey

Former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, produced a documentary for Channel 4 entitled "What British Muslims Think" which aired at 10:00pm on April 13. The programme is based on what is described as "the most comprehensive survey of British Muslims ever conducted," the full results of which are available here. Trevor Phillips also discussed the survey and its results in a feature article in the Sunday Times on April 10.

Some key survey results are the following:

  • One in three British Muslims support the right of a man to have more than one wife, even though that is illegal in the UK.
  • 23% support areas of Britain being governed by sharia law instead of British law.
  • One in five have never entered a non-Muslim home.
  • 78% believe that no publication should have the right to publish pictures of Muhammad.
  • 44% believe Jews have too much power in the business world.
  • 4% sympathise with suicide bombing – this equates to over 100,000 British people.
  • Only 66% completely condemn stoning for adultery.
  • 64% believe Muslims girls should have the right to wear a Niqab (face veil) in school.
  • 45% would prefer to send their child to a school with strong Muslim values.
  • Only one in three said that they would report it to the police if they thought someone close to them was getting involved with people who support terrorism in Syria.

The Problem

What these figures show is that a significant proportion of British Muslims have no intention of integrating into British society. Ten years ago, Trevor Phillips famously warned that Britain is "sleepwalking to segregation". Today, that segregation is evident in the lack of integration of Muslims in Britain. Trevor Phillips describes it as a "nation-within-a-nation" and a "major fault line in this country." Having previously been more concerned about discrimination against Muslim immigrants, he now thinks that "integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced." In his words, our "live and let live approach has unwittingly provided fertile ground for extremism to flourish."

Christian Concern has been dealing with the problems arising from the growing influence of Islam in Britain for many years. We have warned about the creation of a parallel legal system and the growth of radical Islam in the nation and have spoken out about the discriminatory and abusive nature of sharia law. It would also have been interesting to see questions about honour violence in this survey, given that we know that over 11,000 honour crimes have been recorded in the UK in the last 5 years. It is because of very real threats of violence towards people who have left Islam, that we at Christian Concern have found it necessary to set up a Safe Haven network in order to provide some protection for them. 

Trevor Phillips now realises that our concerns and warnings have proven to be true. He recognises that he was wrong to assume that Muslim immigrants would gradually blend in to Britain as other immigrants have done. Instead, we have allowed segregated communities to grow and become hotbeds of extremism. Yet, he still thinks that our liberal elite are clinging on to the "patronising certainty that British Muslims will, over time, come to see that ‘our’ ways our better." As he puts it: "the fact that Britain’s ethnic minorities are intensely committed to their religious beliefs seems baffling to secular liberals." As Christians, we do understand religious commitment and we recognise the strengths and dangers of it. Islamic belief is growing in both numbers and intensity in Britain, contrary to what the secular elite might expect.

The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration

What Trevor Phillips fails to appreciate is that this increasing segregation of Muslim communities needs to be set in the context of the Islamic doctrine of Al-Hijra or Immigration. Sam Solomon, a former sharia court judge, and one of the founders of Christian Concern, wrote a book about this doctrine which is available for purchase from the Christian Concern shop. Al-Hijra is based on Muhammad’s original migration, or Hijra from Mecca to Medina which was for the purpose of spreading Islam. This duty of emigration to spread Islam is clearly set out in several verses of the Qur’an.

For example, Surah 2:218 says: "Indeed, those who have believed and those who have emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah - those expect the mercy of Allah." (see also 8:72,74,75; 9:20; 16:41,110.) Segregation is also encouraged in Islam. For example, Surah 5:51 "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies." Or Surah 58:22 "You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred." Most Muslims will not be aware of these verses, but the leaders will be, and they will encourage others to form segregated communities and to prevent integration of Muslims into the wider society.

What is clearly evident from this survey is that this strategy is bearing fruit. Taking into account census data showing that certain boroughs of London are >50% Muslim, and the emergence of sharia councils and sharia finance, you can see that it is no exaggeration to talk of a ‘nation-within-a-nation’. The good news is that the majority of Muslims do want to integrate. The bad news is that the ‘minority’ who are not integrating equates to large numbers of people amongst a growing population. 


Trevor Phillips himself argued that a "far more muscular approach to integration" is required and with this we agree. He proposed the following measures be implemented to improve the integration of Muslims in Britain:

  • Halt the growth of sharia courts and place them under regulation.
  • Ensure that school governance never falls into the hands of a single minority group as in the ‘Trojan Horse’ episode in Birmingham.
  • Restrict the foreign funding of mosques in Britain.
  • End the ‘silence-for-votes’ that resulted in turning a blind eye to Islamic rape gangs in Rotherham and Rochdale.

We have been arguing for baning sharia courts for some years. It is high time that the government realised that sharia law is inherently discriminatory and incompatible with British law. Christian Concern has supported Baroness Cox’s Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill which has now passed through the House of Lords. This Bill will help to regulate sharia councils and prevent the growing emergence of a parallel legal system in the UK. We urge the government to support this important Bill and make time for it to progress through the House of Commons.

The government should also take action to halt the foreign funding of mosques in the UK and to ensure that Christian values are taught in our schools. The government should not be promoting sharia finance but restricting it as it legitimises the influence of sharia law in our culture. The government needs to discourage the creation of a ‘nation-within-a-nation’ before it is too late and our nation becomes irreversibly divided.

This survey is a wakeup call to the nation. For too long we have been "sleepwalking", as Trevor Phillips says. This may be "the hardest challenge we have ever faced" but it needs facing now.

Related Links:
What do British Muslims really think? (Times £) 
'Honour crime': 11,000 UK cases recorded in five years (BBC) 
What British Muslims really think survey (ICM Unlimited) 
Safe Haven (Safe Haven)