Multiculturalism blamed for radical young Muslims

Young British Muslims are more radical than their parents
Young British Muslims are more radical than their parents

A new poll revealing young Muslims are more radical than their parents shows the "failure of multiculturalism" over the past 20 years, the Conservative leader has said.

David Cameron said today's survey by the Policy Exchange showing more than a third of young Muslims would like to live under sharia law, and 13 per cent support groups like al-Qaida, proved the failings of treating each community as distinct.

"It's not necessarily Islam - sometimes it's our cultural sensitivities, our multiculturalist approach that says let's treat these people as separate blocs and let's listen to often unrepresentative bodies that pretend to represent them," he told Today.

"So we should be more self-confident about what it means to be British and what it means to be a Muslim in Britain, or Afro-Caribbean, or anything else, and actually build a stronger country that way."


This analysis was supported by Munira Murza, lead author of today's Policy Exchange report, who warned: "Islamist groups have gained influence at local and national level by playing the politics of identity and demanding for Muslims the 'right to be different'."

She added: "The government should stop emphasising difference and engage with Muslims as citizens, not through their religious identity."

The Populus poll of more than 1,000 Muslims for the conservative-leaning think tank reveals that for 86 per cent of those questioned, religion is the most important thing in their lives. But this takes a different form among the older and younger generations.

About 37 per cent of respondents aged 16 to 24 said they would prefer to send their children to an Islamic school, compared to 25 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds and 19 per cent of the over 55s.

And although the majority (59 per cent) of Muslims preferred living under British law, 28 per cent said they would prefer to live under Sharia, or Islamic religious, law. Among young people, this rose to 37 per cent, compared to 17 per cent for the over 55s.

Seven per cent of all those questioned said they admired organisations like al-Qaida that "are prepared to fight the West", but this was sentiment was most marked among younger Muslims (13 per cent) than the older generation (three per cent).

Three quarters of young Muslims prefer women to wear the veil or the hijab, compared to 28 per cent of the over 55s, and almost a third (31 per cent) of young Muslims said people who convert from Islam to another religion should be punished by death.

However, 59 per cent of Muslims said they have as much in common if not more with non-Muslims in Britain than Muslims abroad, and one fifth admitted to drinking, 19 per cent to gambling and nine per cent to taking drugs.

Despite concerns about Islamophobia, 84 per cent also said they were treated fairly in Britain.

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