Student radicals

“This disgusting report is a reflection of the biases and prejudices of a right-wing think tank – not the views of Muslim students across Britain,” he said. “Only 632 Muslim students were asked vague and misleading questions, and their answers were wilfully misinterpreted.”

Says Wes Streeting of the National Union of Students of a new YouGov survey into Student Muslim views. It’s quite an accusation given that the survey shows that the majority of Muslim students are not extremist. Minette Marrin pre-empts his comments about the report.

No doubt views such as that will be denounced as Islamophobic bigotry. No doubt some will decry the CSC as neoconservative.

Indeed, one would wonder if people professing support for the BNP and/or extremist racist views would be cut the same slack by Wes Streeting. So what does the report show?

  • 40% of Muslim students polled support the introduction of Sharia into
    British law for Muslims.
  • Almost a third (32%) of Muslim students polled said killing in the name of
    religion was ever justified. By contrast, just 2% of non-Muslims polled felt
    the same way
  • 40% of Muslim students polled felt it unacceptable for Muslim men and
    women to associate freely.
  • 33% of Muslim students polled declared themselves supportive of a
    worldwide Islamic Caliphate based on Sharia law.
  • 54% of Muslim students polled were supportive of an Islamic political
    party to represent the views of Muslims at Parliament.
  • Slightly less than a quarter (24%) of Muslim student respondents do not
    think that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah.
  • 6% of Muslim students polled said that converts from Islam should be
    punished “in accordance with Sharia law”
  • 25% of Muslim students (and 32% of male Muslim students) polled said they
    had not very much or no respect at all for homosexuals.
  • 66% of Muslim students polled said they had lost respect for the British
    government because of the invasion of Iraq.
  • However, 30% of Muslim students polled also said their respect for British
    society had increased based on the public’s (largely negative) reaction to
    the Iraq war.

The full survey is here [PDF] and the executive summary is here [PDF].

I have not yet had time to read them fully, but here are some general comments to start you off.

1. There is an increased amount of religious indoctrination and segregation on campuses in general (Sikhism, Christianity, etc). Far from being secular institutions they are recruiting grounds for all faiths. I don’t think any body can dispute this.

2. Islamic student societies have a tendency, like all societies, to be driven by the most committed members. In the case of Islam this often means Islamists. They often invite speakers that are pro-sharia law.

3. Some Islamic societies can act as enforcement agencies. New girls arriving on campuses can be put under pressure by “brothers”, as they call themselves, to wear the Hijab, or even the veil.

4. It’s a shame that institutions that should be about opening one’s mind to new possibilities and new ways of thinking become for some students a place where a rigid set of beliefs can be imposed on them via peer pressure. A peer pressure that they perhaps did not experience at home.

5. Some universities accommodate separate prayer rooms for the “sisters”. I’m not sure that secular institutions should be positively facilitating such acts.

6. The Iraq war. (groan). The point about the Iraq war now is that it is about time that it was portrayed as it is, which is a Muslim nation fighting extremists. We are on the right side now, with the majority of that population, regardless of what the “correct view” should have been before the invasion.

All of that said, I suspect that extreme left opinion in universities is also overly represented. That’s what students do. Extremes are attractive when you are young. However, while the majority of Muslim students do not come across from this survey as extremists, it is saddening to see that a sizable number hold reactionary and dangerous views.