Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Britons link Islam with extremism

Most people in the UK associate Islam with extremism and the repression of women, a survey has suggested.The online YouGov poll found 58% of those questioned linked Islam with extremism while 69% believed it encouraged the repression of women.

The survey of 2,152 adults was commissioned by the Exploring Islam Foundation.

The organisation has launched a poster campaign on London transport to combat negative perceptions of Muslims.

BBC home editor Mark Easton says the survey, conducted last month, paints a negative picture of British attitudes to Islam.

Asked if Muslims had a positive impact on British society, the YouGov poll found four out of 10 disagreed with the statement.

Half linked Islam with terrorism, just 13% thought it was based on peace and 6% associated it with justice.

Some 60% admitted they did not know much about the religion, but a third said they would like to know more.

Social responsibilityThe Exploring Islam Foundation hopes to challenge the negative views of the religion with its Inspired By Muhammad project.

It will feature posters of Muslim professionals, displayed in central London locations such as bus stops and tube stations, alongside messages emphasising the ways in which Muslims balance religious tradition with contemporary human rights and social responsibility.

Aly, campaigns director for the foundation, said many Muslims were concerned about the way their faith was perceived by the public."We want to foster a greater understanding of what British Muslims are about and our contribution to British society.

We are proud of being British and being Muslim," she said. A spokesman for the Quilliam Foundation , the counter-extremism think tank, welcomed the campaign, describing it as a "timely step to help improve relations and foster deeper understanding between British citizens"

"This campaign is important because it can help non-Muslims to better understand the faith that inspires and guides their Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues."This initiative also helps British Muslims reclaim the Prophet Muhammad as a time-honoured guide for peace, compassion and social justice from those who seek to twist his teachings."

As one would expect, this campaign is focused on external appearances, and not toward challenging allegedly "extremist" views among fellow Muslims. And it's predictably deceptive. Glowing generalities like the one on the car pictured above require readers to project their own cultural understanding of ideas like "women's rights" onto the propaganda presented to them.

Muhammad favored "women's rights," did he? But what was the extent of what he thought the rights of women were? Qur'an 4:34 allows men to hit their wives. Qur'an 2:23 says "our women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will." Qur'an 2:282 says a woman's testimony is worth half a man's. And Sahih Bukhari 4.54.460 says "If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning."

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