Is the UK's relationship with Muslim communities 'broken'?

Lack of integration may be behind a surge in hate crimes and rising Islamophobia, report finds

Muslim men praying
(Image credit: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

Westminster should review its anti-terrorism programme and push universities to offer educational and religious qualifications for imams, according to a major new report.

Unlocking British Muslim Potential from Citizens UK, which follows an 18-month study into the UK's relationship with its Muslim community, found "the integration of Muslims into the civic and political process of Britain had not been developing as well as it should, and that such exclusion had led to alienation and, in turn, separation", says Buzzfeed News.

The study adds that it is of "great importance" that imams born in Britain and who have a "good understanding" of the culture and language are "encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives".

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Former UK attorney general Dominic Grieve, chairman of the commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life, which published the study, said British Muslims had mixed views about the extent to which they have equal status or access to equal opportunities in the UK.

Polls also indicate a fundamental scepticism across wider society towards Muslims and the way they are integrated into the community.

According to the study, this "makes the need for action to break down barriers and bring people together even more necessary". Grieve warned that unless action was taken, there was a real risk of "a downward spiral of mutual suspicion and incomprehension".

See more

Citizen's UK also found a strong sense that Muslims and Islam were "unfairly targeted", with the fear of discrimination deterring younger members of the community from engaging in politics and other aspects of public life.

See more

In addition, it calls for a review of the government’s Prevent program, an anti-radicalisation initiative championed by Theresa May during her stint as home secretary.

The scheme "has been criticised as being counterproductive since being introduced in 2011", says Buzzfeed News.

See more

Officials say there has been a surge in anti-Muslim hate crime following the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks, with the Metropolitan Police announcing last week it was treating an acid attack on two Muslim cousins, Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan, in east London as a hate crime.

"The response to those attacks; with communities coming together in unity and defiance demonstrates why the recommendations in this report should be actioned as a matter of priority, so the UK can build on the positive work already happening," Citizen's UK report says.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.