Majority of Britons see Islam as threat, new poll reveals

A majority of Britons consider Muslims to be a threat to Western democracy, a higher level than after the 7/7 bombings in 2005, a new poll has revealed, with over 75% believing that a large-scale terror attack is inevitable.

The survey, conducted by international research firm YouGov for the Huffington Post, revealed that 56% of those asked believe that Islam is a "major" or "some" threat to Western democracy, showing a marked rise in negative views towards Muslims.

The results represent a 10% rise from the 46% who held the same views in a poll conducted just a day after the 2005 terror attacks, the 10th anniversary of which is next week. The attack saw four coordinated suicide bombs target London's transport network, killing 52 people and injure almost 800 more.

The survey polled 1,578 British adults between 23 June and 24 June 2015, before the Sousse beach massacre in Tunisia, perpetrated by a lone Isis-affiliated gunman, which claimed the lives of at least 30 British tourists.

The survey showed that more than a quarter of people, 27%, see Islam as a "major threat" to Western democracy, a 6% increase from those who held the same views in 2005.

It also reveals a decrease in those who believe that British Muslims are "peaceful, law-abiding citizens who deplore terror attacks in the name of Islam", with only 20% stating this applies to "practically all" Muslims, down from 23% in 2005, and 60% who said it applied to the majority of Muslims, down from 64% in 2005.

Participants were not asked specifically about "fundamentalist Islamist groups", and so those answering the questions were focusing on the religion as a whole.

Another figure revealed by the poll is that more than three quarters of Brits, 79%, believe that a mass terror attack in Britain is inevitable.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general at the Muslim Council of Britain, says that these latest figures come as no surprise due to the media's portrayal of Muslims and rising Islamophobia in the country.

"Unfortunately this is quite expected given anecdotal evidence that Islamophobia is on the rise in Britain and that Muslims are the 'other'," he told Newsweek. "It's in sharp contrast to what the Muslim community seems to think, which is a loyalty to the UK."

"The reality is that now Islamophobia is socially acceptable," he adds. "The actions of a few people is being associated with the reality of the many. This is not conducive to living in a society in which many people want to live in."

Versi calls for a multi-dimensional approach from the government and non-governmental organisations to tackle rising Islamophobia and reveal "the true face of Islam".

"There needs to be a multi-layered approach. From the community side, we need to work more powerfully with other organisations to show the real face of Islam and publicise this as much as possible. From the politician's' perspective, there needs to be stronger action to tackle Islamophobia," he concludes.