CAIRO – Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population, found a UK-based poll cited by The Sunday Times on November 20.
“This optimism in British Muslims is significant as — combined with their high score for pride in being British — it runs counter to a prevailing narrative about Muslim dissatisfaction with and in the UK,” the report, produced by the think tank Demos, said.
Responding to the statement “I am proud to be a British citizen”, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British.
The percentage came higher than average across the population which scored only 79%.
Muslims were also more optimistic than average, with only 31% believing Britain’s best days are in the past, compared with 45% for society as a whole.
Experts believe that the high results are driven by British Muslims' desire to defend themselves against negative hostility that has been affecting their lives.
Others believe the results prove Muslims’ appreciation of the comparatively liberal system in Britain measured against more restrictive European countries.
This option was solidified as half of the 2,000 people polled agreed that Britain benefited from being multicultural, with sports figures such as the boxer Amir Khan, who is British-Pakistani and has often spoken of his pride at being British, emerging as icons.
“They [Muslims] can ... say to people, ‘We are British and you’ve got us wrong’, or they can say, ‘You don’t think we’re really British? Fine, we’re not’. Only a very small minority do this,” Tariq Modood, director of the Centre for Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, said.
Kashif Hussein, 21, a student at University College London, agreed.
“I feel British and Muslim but since 9/11 we have to show it more, to interact more, to show that we’re not that stereotype,” said Hussein.
Facing British mistrust, Britain's two million Muslims have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.
They have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim.
A Financial Times opinion poll has showed recently that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
The study, to be published on Monday, accuses both the political left and right of failing to grasp the reality of modern British patriotism.
“David Cameron and Gordon Brown were both keen to promote a type of Britishness that is abstract and lacking in emotion,” Andrew Mycock, a reader in politics at Huddersfield University and an expert in British identity, said.
“Values and institutions are things we have no real sense of ownership over. Given the choice of things that make them proud, people will go back to their local communities.”
In September, Cameron launched a drive to “put the Great back into Great Britain” — a promotion aimed at improving the country’s image abroad.
Posters included images of Henry VIII and Cambridge University.
“The way we feel about patriotism is very much a lived experience. Discussing kings and queens and wars is very abstract; we can’t feel an emotional tie,” Mycock added.
Volunteering also came as the biggest single indicator of national pride.
Two-thirds of respondents said they had volunteered at least once during the previous year.
“The key thing that people were proud of is that British people volunteer more than people from other countries and that we’re more socially engaged,” said Max Wind-Cowie, the report’s author.
Public streets cleaning and other altruistic acts were cited as a source of national pride.
Dan Thompson, 37, from Worthing, West Sussex, coordinated many of the clean-ups in London, Manchester and Birmingham in August.
“It made me feel very proud to be British,” he said.
“It’s like the spirit of the blitz: we dust ourselves down and carry on, that is what the British do.”
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