Channel 4’s documentary What British Muslims Really Think informed us that 52% of them want homosexuality to be outlawed; 39% believe that a woman should always obey her husband; 18% sympathise with those who resort to violence against those who mock Mohammed (whom C4 styled ‘The Prophet’ throughout); and 4% sympathise with suicide bombers as a means of procuring justice. The good news is that 86% of them feel a strong sense of belonging to Britain, which is perhaps unsurprising when Britain’s liberal democracy tolerates such sympathies with no worse a retribution than being exposed in a Channel 4 documentary.
Former Equalities Commission head Trevor Phillips finds all this quite alarming. So alarming, in fact, that he has sounded the alarm. “There is a life and death struggle for the soul of British Islam… we need to take sides with liberal Muslims,” he trumpeted, propagating the inviolable “liberal Muslim” orthodoxy already expounded by politicians and the state; you know, the one which helped give rise to charges of ‘Islamophobia’ in the first place, for to talk about Muslims qua Muslims en bloc is Islamophobic, if not racist, especially if you’re not even a liberal sort of Muslim.
But there’s a problem with this “rigorous” survey, and it’s a methodological flaw which (surprisingly) appears to have escaped even the most discerning and intelligent of commentators. Throughout the programme, the findings were presented as what British Muslims really think compared to what the rest of the population really thinks, instead of (say) with what Roman Catholics or Evangelical Christians really think. Since the general population is manifestly more secular (that is, God-less) and liberal (in terms of social morality) than British Muslims, it follows that the ‘chasm’ between the two is not only great, but statistically the greatest. The results presented are thereby skewed.
While the percentage of Roman Catholics or Evangelical Christians who would advocate a return to homosexual prohibition in the UK is doubtless small (but by no means zero), what percentage of them oppose same-sex marriage? You may argue that this isn’t the same at all, but that is to miss the point. The very foundation of the questions asked in this survey are predicated on a certain notion of liberal orthodoxy, with an apparent emphasis on sexual morality. They ask about attitudes to homosexuality because attitudes to homosexuality have become the touchstone of liberal enlightenment. The objective is to neuter charges of Islamophobia with appeals to the more virtuous homophobia, because, for very many, opposition to same-sex marriage is born of the very hatred which has haunted and persecuted homosexuals for centuries. ‘But I say unto you, That whosoever hateth a man becoming one flesh with another man hath committed homophobia already in his heart… Whosoever hateth homosexuality is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath British values abiding in him.’
What proportion of Muslims oppose abortion compared to the proportion of Christians? For a valid comparison, perhaps we’d need to survey areas where more than 20% of the population is Roman Catholic. Should we then use the results to assess how backward these religious groups are when it comes to sex equality and women’s rights?
Why is it alarming that 39% of British Muslims believe a woman should always obey her husband? What proportion of Christians believe this to be a sound biblical exhortation? How many still swear it in their marriage vows? How many of these Muslims responded ‘always’ in the context of the husband’s submission to the loving, beneficent and merciful precepts of Allah? Do these 39% really all believe that a wife should always obey her husband, even if he’s about to behead their daughter (or even the wife) for dishonouring the family name? It is inconceivable that this ‘always’ is lacking any threshold of limitation at all.
And as for the 18% who sympathise with those who resort to violence against those who mock Mohammed, no doubt the percentage of Christians who would resort to violence to defend the name of Jesus is vanishingly small (if not zero), but what percentage would do so to defend their erstwhile Christian culture, traditional freedoms and way of life? When Trevor Phillips calls for a “muscular” approach to integration, how does he think moronic members of ‘Britain First‘ will interpret that?