Britain Divided By Islam

(Telegraph) – MORE THAN HALF the population believes Britain is deeply divided along religious lines, the annual British Social Attitudes survey has found.

A majority of the country would also be concerned if a mosque was built in their area, while only 15 per cent expressed similar qualms about the opening of a church.

The survey found that only 45 per cent of those questioned felt that diversity had brought benefits to the country, while just one in four felt positively about Islam.

In addition it concluded that those with no educational qualifications were twice as likely to have negative attitudes towards Muslims as university graduates.

Findings in the annual study, which is produced with funding from Whitehall, will increase concern that tension over religion is growing in Britain.

The recent furore over plans by the extremist Muslim group Islam4UK to march through the town of Wootton Bassett, to oppose the war in Afghanistan, has increased feelings of division.

The social attitudes survey, which is produced by leading academics from interviews with almost 5,000 people, will be published in full later this month.

But the early findings are likely to heap criticism on Government policies which promote multiculturalism.

Professor David Voas, of Manchester University, who analysed the findings said many Britons felt the growth of Britain’s Muslim population presented a threat to national identity.

He told the Daily Mail: “Opinion is divided and many people remain tolerant of unpopular speech as well as distinctive dress and religious behaviour, but a large segment of the British population is unhappy about these subcultures.”