June 7th 2010
CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED AS POLL REVEALS MOST BRITONS LINK ISLAM WITH VIOLENCE AND EXTREMISM
A new awareness campaign to improve public understanding of Islam and Muslims has been launched in London as an opinion poll shows widespread public concern at Islam’s impact on Britain today (Monday 7th June).
The campaign – “Inspired by Muhammad” – showcases how Muslims are inspired by their faith to contribute positively to British society. The public campaign focuses on women’s rights, social justice and the environment.
It was launched by TV presenter Kristiane Backer in a London cab decorated with the campaign's logo, in front of Tower Bridge on the River Thames.
The high profile media campaign, commissioned by the Exploring Islam Foundation, will include adverts at bus stops, tube stations and on London’s iconic cabs. A new website www.inspiredbymuhammad.com has been launched to explain Islam’s ethical principles and core beliefs.
Alongside the launch, a YouGov national opinion poll commissioned by the EIF at the end of May 2010 has been published. It shows:
- More than half the British population associate Islam with extremism (58%) and terrorism (50%)
- Fewer than one in seven believe that it is a religion of peace (13%) and only one in 16 a religion of justice (6%).
- Less than one in five Britons believe that Islam has a positive impact on British society (19%) with almost a third believing it is a violent religion (33%)
- Two-thirds of people believe it encourages the repression of women (68%)
- Only 16% of the British population believe that Islam promotes fairness and equality and just 6% believe it promotes active measures to protect the environment.
- Most people get their information about Islam through the media such as newspapers (41%) and TV (57%) yet a third of people questioned they would be interested in finding out more about Islam (33%).
EIF is a charity established in 2009, to challenge popular stereotypes about Islam.
At a reception at the British Academy, EIF’s patron Lord Patel said:
“Islam has been a part of British life for generations and British Muslims make an important contribution to the UK’s economic and social wellbeing, and its rich cultural diversity.
“Yet as this poll demonstrates today there remains a great deal of misunderstanding and distrust at the role of Islam and Muslim in Britain today. As a British Muslim, proud of my faith and my country, this causes me deep concern.”
“So I am delighted to be associated with this campaign which I hope will help build a greater understanding and awareness of the positive contribution Islam and Muslims make to British society today.”
TV presenter Kristiane Backer, a convert to Islam who appears as part of the campaign, said:
"I am proud to be part of this campaign which is so important in promoting understanding and breaking stereotypes. This project shows the values of Islam are universal and sit well with British values.”
“What better way to illustrate this than to launch the campaign from a London cab in front of Tower Bridge on the River Thames.”
Remona Aly, Campaigns Director at EIF, said:
“As British Muslims we at the EIF are proud of being British and being Muslim. British values are synonymous with Islamic values – those of being committed to social justice, caring for the environment, of mutual respect and tolerance, and contributing positively to your society.
“So, inevitably we are concerned by the often inaccurate and negative stereotypes of the faith on our screens and in our newspapers – and the YouGov poll we publish today shows the influence that some of this coverage has on popular attitudes.”
“But we are hopeful, and believe that if British Muslims tell their positive stories then we can begin to change attitudes for the better. We hope that this campaign will contribute to this task.”
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Note to editors
See attached supporting documents for more details on the campaign, further polling information, details on the campaign images, and contact details.
The campaign profiles three Muslims in Britain, each of which focus on a key issue. These are:
Kristiane Backer - Environment
Kristiane, the former MTV presenter, is a convert to Islam. She grew up conscious of green issues in her native Germany and adopts an environmentally-friendly lifestyle in her adopted city, London. Since leaving MTV, Kristiane has focused on her career as a TV presenter and journalist covering a range of interfaith issues. As EIF’s Global Ambassador, Kristiane promotes EIF’s work around the world.
Sultana Tafadar - Women's Rights
Sultana is a barrister at a leading human rights chamber, predominantly practicing in criminal defence, as well as civil actions against the police and international law. She has a background in human rights international law and anti terror work and has been involved in human rights work for a number of years, having worked for various NGOs before being called to the Bar in 2005.
Rupon Miah - Social Justice
Rupon is a frontline worker at a leading homeless charity for young people in London. He has worked in the charity for eight years, formerly at strategic management level, before going back to working on the frontline. He is currently studying a Masters in Philosophy.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2152 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 21st May 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- YouGov is registered with the Information Commissioner
- YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council