Antisemitism goes against British Muslims’ civic values, survey reveals

A new nationwide survey has revealed that 72 percent of British Muslims believe that more should be done to improve interfaith relations in the UK, highlighting the work of several Muslim campaigning groups promoting Jewish-Muslim relations.

The survey comes at a troubling time for UK Jews, where a sharp increase in antisemitism is leading to some considering leaving the country altogether.

Conducted by the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL) and commissioned by TechneUK, a member of the British Polling Council (BPC), the survey titled The social contribution of British Muslims explores forms of social belonging, with British Muslim respondents also asked about their views on domestic interfaith relations. In this regard, the work of British Muslim campaigning groups such as Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS) featured prominently.

MAAS ran a conversation (Shalom, Salaam) in late 2019 between Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Imam Mamadou Boucoum in London where the pair discussed Jewish-Muslim relations. Moreover, the group’s 2018 campaign in The Times which said ‘We Muslims have one word for Jews – Shalom’ received significant praise from the UK public and in particular the Jewish population. MAAS reiterated this messaging in the days following the October 07 attack.

The poll follows clear warnings by prominent organisations such as the Campaign Against Antisemitism and also leading UK politicians including the Home Secretary that the UK Jewish community is under attack at a rate not seen in decades following Hamas’ terrorist attacks.

Recent reports have shown that antisemitic attitudes are embedded across British society, ranging from universities to schools and even the NHS. In recent months, a number of UK medical professionals have been suspended for promoting antisemitism, in one case with an NHS doctor being found guilty of leading the UK branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a newly designated terrorist organisation which has frequently spread antisemitic messaging.

In recent weeks, the election of an MP previously sacked for antisemitic remarks, George Galloway, saw the Board of Deputies of British Jews calling his election victory in Rochdale ‘a dark day for the Jewish community in this country’. The UK Prime Minister took the unusual step of addressing the UK public following the election, calling on the public to unite to beat the ‘poison’, a move that Labour leader Keir Starmer agreed with.

Most recently, the front page of London’s Evening Standard newspaper was difficult for passers-by to ignore, focusing on the growing numbers of Jewish families considering fleeing London for abroad because of rising antisemitism in the capital.

The story highlighted the correlation between Gaza protest marches and increases in antisemitic attacks, making London (and other cities) at times no-go areas for UK Jews.

With these demonstrations taking place almost weekly across the UK’s major cities, Jews are scared for their own welfare despite the promises of their elected officials to protect them.

Instances of antisemitism following such marches, as detailed by one UK Jew in the Independent, clearly do not align with the attitudes of a vast majority of British Muslims as detailed in the IIFL survey. Indeed, less than two weeks after the events of October 07, faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg came together to deliver a joint statement of solidarity at Lambeth Palace in London.

Sheikh Mogra called instances of antisemitism ‘deplorable and wrong’, emphasising that it is ‘unacceptable’ that synagogues and Jewish centres have been the target of hate crimes, calling on all fellow citizens ‘to stand up and speak out against all and every form of hate’.

Groups like MAAS continue undertaking vitally important work, ensuring that positive messaging around interfaith relations rises above instances of hate which do not align with Muslim values.

With a strong majority of British Muslims of the opinion that more should be done to advance positive interfaith relations in the UK, Muslim communities should rally together and get behind groups like MAAS to make sure instances of racist hate are stamped out.

Only in this way with UK Jews feel safe and welcomed in communities which welcomed them with open arms following decades of persecution in Europe and further afield.

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