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  1. Politics
7 June 2010

Islam is an extremist faith and prone to terrorism, say Britons

But we don’t know very much about it, they admit.

By Mehdi Hasan

I’ve just had an email from the Quilliam Foundation, the “counter-extremism” Muslim think tank run by Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, which outlines the results of a new YouGov poll:

– 58 per cent of people associate Islam with extremism

– 50 per cent associate Islam with terrorism

– 69 per cent believe Islam encourages the repression of women

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– 60 per cent say they don’t know very much about Islam

My immediate response — apart from holding my head in my hands and feeling very depressed — is to note a tension in these results. If the majority of Britons (60 per cent) admit to pollsters that they “don’t know very much about Islam”, why then do they choose to “associate” Islam with terrorism and extremism and take such a firm view on Islam’s treatment of women?

I don’t know very much about Liechtenstein or Jainism, which is why I don’t automatically “associate” either Liechtenstein or Jainism with terrorism or extremism (or, for that matter, peace and goodwill or any other vice or virtue). Nor do I pontificate on the rights of women in Liechtenstein or in Jainism. Nor would I answer any question put to me by a pollster on Liechtenstein or Jainism with anything other than the words: “Don’t know.”

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