When British people think about Muslims, terrorism often comes to mind. Amid a growing international concern about the Islamic State group (aka ISIS), a recent YouGov poll found that Britons associate followers of Islam with certain negative terms more often than positive ones. At the top of the list were the 12 percent of respondents who linked the word “Muslim” to the phrases “terror,” “terrorist” or “terrorism,” the Telegraph reported.
The survey, commissioned by the United Kingdom charity Islamic Relief, asked around 6,640 people what ideas they connected with Muslims. “Terrorism” was the most popular response, followed by “faith,” “mosque,” “Koran” and “religious.” Equally as many respondents answered the question with “extremist” or “misogynist” as did with “Allah,” Mohammed” or “prayer.”
This could indicate that Britons’ views on Islam are becoming more negative, Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief’s director, told the Telegraph. “The results of this poll are extremely worrying because they show that public attitudes towards Muslims are hugely negative, and attitudes towards refugees have hardened significantly,” Malik said. “It’s time we celebrated the role British Muslims play as part of the solution rather than demonizing the Muslim community as part of the problem.”
Over the past year, the U.K. has become involved in the fight against the extremist group ISIS. The British Parliament approved airstrikes on ISIS in September. More than 2,000 British nationals have left the country to join the organization in Syria and Iraq, and an estimated 300 have come back, the Independent reported.
The YouGov poll also found 42 percent of Britons do not think the U.K. should accept refugees from the conflict in the Middle East. This was a jump from the 31 percent of people who said they disagreed with welcoming refugees in a similar 2014 poll.
Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of peace promotion group Faith Matters, told RT that the British public should remember that Muslim communities are diverse. He added that they’ve been known for “playing a positive role in the United Kingdom and having a long history of positive engagement with this country.”