Wednesday, August 20, 2008

UK Muslim Students Disrespect Gays More Than Jews

At the end of July across the pond, results of an important survey were released in London that touched upon young Muslims and their attitudes in relation to gays, showing an uncomfortably high rate of intolerance.

While the survey and the results generated some attention from papers and bloggers in the United Kingdom, I don't believe the findings received any notice from American bloggers, and I want to do my part to shed a bit of US light on the survey.

This is excerpted from the executive summary:

Attitudes towards homosexuals and Jews:

- A quarter (25%) of Muslim students polled said they had not very much or no respect at all for homosexuals, as opposed to 4% of non-Muslim students polled.

- Male Muslim students were the most likely to be intolerant of homosexuality: male Muslim respondents (32%) were much more likely than female Muslim respondents (19%) to have little or no respect for homosexuals. Amongst non-Muslims polled, the percentages of males and females saying the same were 4% and 3% respectively.

- Almost one in fifteen (7%) Muslim students polled said they had not very much or no respect at all for Jews. Four out of five (79%) Muslim students polled, however, said they respected Jews.

The 25% and 32% rates of those in this UK survey who had little to no respect for gay people are troubling, and force me to wonder if those same rates of intolerance would be found among US Muslim students.

It's worth noting that the percentage of those who have no respect for Jews, 7%, is so much lower than the figure about gays, 25%. Why is the number about gays higher than that for Jews? What conditions and factors contributed to better understanding among young Muslims towards Jews?

I'd like to learn why the 7% is so low, and the respect level for Jewish people, 79%, is sky-high. Can we ever expect to see such numbers from Muslim students in the UK towards gays?

If the Muslims polled can overcome centuries of hatred, vicious misunderstanding and antagonism towards Jewish people, I see no reason why we one may see more Muslims turning tolerant and maybe even accepting of gay people.

Here's a brief explanation of the survey from the firm that conducted it, the Centre for Social Cohesion:

Islam on Campus is the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of Muslim student opinion in the UK, based on a specially commissioned YouGov poll of 1400 students, fieldwork and interviews. The report examines students' attitudes on key issues including killing in the name of religion, establishing a worldwide Caliphate, introducing Sharia law to the UK, setting up an Islamic political party in the UK, gender equality, the treatment of apostates and homosexuals and the compatibility of Islam with secularism and democracy.

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