Only 4% of British Muslims believe Al Qaeda planned 9/11

Only 4% of British Muslims can correctly identify who was responsible for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, according to a survey of conducted by centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, a non-profit education think tank.

The survey — of 3,000 British Muslims from a variety of towns — also said:

  • 43% support the introduction of some forms of Sharia law.
  • 44% believe schools should be able to insist on “a hijab or niqab” as part of the uniform.
  • 15% believe art or music should not be taught in school (artistic representations of humans are regarded as idolatry in some forms of Islamic belief).
  • 10% would not ban tutoring that “promotes extreme views or is deemed incompatible with fundamental British values.”

But the biggest point survey results show that more UK Muslims believe Jews perpetrated the 9/11 attacks than believe Al Qaeda planned it:

(A good set of factual historic reference resources on the history of 9/11 can be found here.)

The authors of the survey described that last stat as “slightly alarming.”

The survey should be taken in context. It also found that 93% felt strongly or fairly strongly attached to Britain as their home country; only 1% favour a “fully separate Islamic area in Britain, subject to Sharia Law and government”; and 78% support government regulation to prevent extremists from being able to teach in madrassas (Muslim religious schools).

It also found lower support for political violence and terrorism than among the general UK population.

In a foreword to the report, Birmingham Labour Khalid Mahmood wrote, “British Muslims are, on a whole range of issues, no different in their views and priorities than their non-Muslim neighbours. This simple fact will come as no surprise to some people — but to many others, I think it cannot be emphasised enough. And yet, alongside that, as this report also makes clear, there are some issues on which the views of British Muslims do give pause. Nowhere is this more evident than with regards to the troubled question of ‘extremism’. It is obviously a cause for concern that so many within our communities should doubt the very existence of this phenomenon, even as we face a severe and on-going terrorist threat.”

The poll mirrors an older survey taken by Gallup in 2009, which also found that many British Muslims hold extreme views. That older poll, a survey of 500 Muslims, discovered that zero per cent — literally none of those surveyed — believed homosexuality was morally acceptable. A later survey, taken this year by ICM, found 52% of 1,000 Muslims surveyed believe homosexuality should be illegal.

Some of the results are open to interpretation. There is a wide variety of opinion on what Sharia law actually involves. Few Muslims believe in limb amputations as a punishment for theft, but many would like the option to have their divorces or non-interest loans governed by religious tenets, the survey shows.

The survey included quotes from focus groups in which Muslims were asked to discuss who they believe was behind the September 11 attacks that killed 3,000. The group had some false and anti-Semitic beliefs about who was responsible:

“What was striking about this conversation was the unanimity of views within the focus group about 9/11: there was almost total agreement that this event had been staged. Moreover, this discussion in Slough was entirely typical of those that took place in other focus groups in Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and central London. In each instance, it was noticeable how a gathering of otherwise ‘normal’, well-adjusted individuals could hold fairly outlandish views,” the survey’s authors say.

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