Friday, July 01 2016

New report published on Muslims in London

The Open Society Institute has released a report on Muslims in London with a specific focus on the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The report, building on earlier analysis on Muslims in 11 European cities, looks at issues of identity and belonging, education, health, policing and security and political participation.

Interesting among the results is the enduring disparity between self-perceptions of Britishness among Muslims and acceptance by others of Muslims as British. Nearly three quarters of Muslim respondents indicate self-perception as British but only 41% believe that others see them as British. The findings mirror the results of the Gallup Coexist survey of 2009, according to which 82 per cent of Muslims said they were loyal to the UK, although only 36 per cent of the general public believed this to be so.

Among other findings from the research are the following results:

“The [OSI] Foundations’ survey found that nearly half the Muslim respondents and just over half the non-Muslim respondents had “a fair amount” of confidence in the police, but in focus groups with younger participants, concerns about discrimination came to light. Stop-and-search procedures were perceived as targeting people due to their religion or ethnicity, and outreach initiatives were regarded with suspicion because combating extremism was seen as the underlying motive.

“The local authority has developed initiatives in tackling hate crime, including the establishment of nonpolicing sites such as mosques and community centres for reporting hate crime. The Foundations research suggests that there remains much under-reporting by Muslim women of instances of hate crime.

“Muslim respondents had greater levels of trust in political institutions compared with the non-Muslim respondents. Almost half of Muslim respondents (49 per cent) reported trust in the national Parliament, compared with just over one-third (35 per cent) of non-Muslim respondents. Political participation among survey respondents was modest; only just over half of both the Muslim and non-Muslim groups indicated that they had voted in the most recent council elections.

“Survey respondents were critical of media representations of Muslims, but also found that Muslims themselves must more actively engage with the media and present a more balanced perspective of their communities.”

The report further highlights the need for more work to be done to address the under-reporting of hate crimes affecting Muslim women, as well as awareness raising of third party reporting sites, such as mosques and community centers, to encourage victims of hate crimes to record their incidents.

The report notes the initiatives undertaken by the Borough to meet the needs of its diverse population in provision of services and in complying with equality duties mandated by the Equality Act.

The report can be read here.

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