A majority of Britons believe that Muslims need to do more to integrate into society and want tighter restrictions on immigration, an opinion poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows.
However, the population is divided about whether the breakdown between communities has reached such a level that there are “no-go areas” for non-Muslims.
The poll comes at the end of a week in which Muslim integration has been pushed to the top of the political agenda following an article in The Sunday Telegraph by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who claimed that Islamic extremism in Britain had created no-go areas.
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His comments have been backed by church leaders in majority Muslim areas who have disclosed that their congregations have been targeted by militant Islamists in a campaign of intimidation which has seen churches vandalised and converts to Christianity attacked.
They say that extremists are determined to make non-Muslim residents feel unwelcome, with the ultimate aim of driving them out.
Today’s ICM poll shows that Britons are divided on the issue, with 35 per cent agreeing with the bishop, 38 per cent disagreeing, and the rest unsure.
More than half – 56 per cent – were critical of the failure of Islamic communities to integrate into society. Only one in four felt that they had been successful.
Western values are not compatible with Islam. As a result, many Muslims form ghettos and engage in other forms of non-integration.
Hair-tricker sensitivities that have Muslim extremists respond to real or perceived insults with death threats, violent demonstrations, murder and terrorism, make it difficult or even impossible for non-Muslims to believe the claim that Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’ Therefore a high birthrate among Muslims, combined with high (legal and illegal) immigration figures, have Europeans and others worried about the Muslims in their midst.
Bishop Nazir-Ali expressed concern that attempts had been made in some areas to impose an Islamic character, for example by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques.
One in three of those questioned in the poll said that they would be unhappy to have a mosque built in their neighbourhood compared with a quarter who would support such a move.
Although 51 per cent agreed that the Muslim community enriched Britain and was not a threat, 37 per cent disagreed.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said that the poll results showed a widespread feeling that the Government had failed. “This demonstrates that the Government’s actions, both to control immigration and to advance integration, are believed to have failed by the vast majority of the population,” he said.
Church leaders in communities with large concentrations of Muslims said that Christians were being targeted. An east London vicar who had delivered Christmas leaflets in his parish said he was told to stay away from “Muslim areas”.
He said: “Despite this being a mixed area, where Muslims make up only about 15 per cent of the population, I was told that the leaflets were offensive and could make people angry.”
Another churchman said his path had been blocked by Muslim youths as he drove through a district of Oldham, Lancashire, last year. “They wanted to know why I was coming into ‘their’ area,” he said.
A priest ministering in the Manchester district of Rusholme said he knew of “dozens of cases” in which Muslim converts to Christianity had been attacked.
Another church leader said that Asian Christians in Leicester feared being identified when leaving churches.
“They are scared of being stopped and beaten up if they are found carrying Bibles,” he said.
None of the church leaders we spoke to wished to be identified for fear of retaliation, but Don Horrocks, of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “It’s increasingly difficult for non-Muslims to live in areas of high Muslim density, especially if they are practising Christians.”
Some commentators fear that the aim of Islamist groups such as Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb-ut-Tahir and the Deobandi sect is to drive non-Muslims out of areas such as Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire, and Oldham along with neighbourhoods in Luton, Leicester, Birmingham and Leyton, in east London.
The ultra-conservative Deobandi movement, which produced the Taliban in Afghanistan and some of whose British followers preach hatred of Christians, Hindus and Jews, is thought to be in control of almost half of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, reports claim.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Barnabas Trust, which helps persecuted Christians, said: “Muslims are being told not to integrate into British society, but to set up separate enclaves where they can operate according to sharia law.”
He said the process of “cleansing” Muslim-majority areas of non-Muslims had already begun, with white residents urged to leave and churches threatened.
However, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that research showed that 81 per cent of people say that they feel that people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local areas.
“People of all faiths make a huge contribution to British life. Community cohesion is key to maintaining harmonious communities. That is why our strategy puts an emphasis on promoting integration and shared British values.”
€¢ Most Britons believe that asylum seekers and immigrants are taking advantage of human rights laws, a survey shows.
The poll, carried out for the Ministry of Justice, found that 57 per cent agreed that foreigners and asylum seekers are exploiting the Human Rights Act for their own purposes. Another 40 per cent thought the Act had caused more problems than it had solved.