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Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities Opinion polls showed as early as 2013 that most Britons favor limiting immigration, regardless of the racial origin of the newcomers.

British society is generally tolerant towards minorities. Three largest ethnic minority groups in the country – Indian, Pakistani and African-Caribbean – were formed after the Second World War, when Britain required labour force to rebuild the country and the economy. In this period, tolerance was promoted as a key part of the British society. However, in the last 15 years, the attitudes changed; mostly towards immigrants. Terrorist attacks and government actions in this period brewed discrimination towards Muslims, which caused increased cases of hate crime against this minority group.

Despite the numerous education programmes, intolerance remains a problem in Great Britain. The British Social Attitudes poll, which was published in late May, showed that racial prejudice is very common in the UK. 29% of respondents in the survey said that they share certain racist prejudices. Show Racism the Red Card held a survey amongst 3000 Wales students, almost half of whom said that the term “coloured” is appropriate. 20% believed that calling the Chinese “chinks” is appropriate.

According to a report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research published on July 18, 2015, 40% of surveyed orthodox Jews said that they have experienced anti-Semitic persecution or discrimination in the last 12 months. At the same time, the number of non-orthodox Jews who suffered from anti-Semitism is 17%.

Survey conducted in late December 2014 showed that 45% of respondents hold anti-Semitic beliefs. 25% thought that Jews love money more than other people, 20% believe that Jews are loyal to Israel more than Britain, 17% thought that Jews think they are better than everyone else, 13% believed that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism is more common among UKIP supporters. British Jews themselves are pessimistic about their future in the UK – 45% think they have no future in Britain. 58% believe that they have no future in Europe. 45% believe themselves to be in danger from Islamic extremism. 63% thought that authorities are too lenient towards anti-Semites.

On May 2, 2014, Pink Floyd's front man Roger Waters urged musicians to boycott Israel, where, in his opinion, racist regime was set.

On July 20, it was reported that more than 50 cultural activists signed an open letter, protesting the inclusion of an Israeli show in Edinburgh’s annual Fringe Festival. According to them, Israel exploits artistic actions to “divert attention from the atrocities of its illegal occupation”. The show was cancelled.

On August 4, 2014, National Student Union voted to boycott Israel, explaining it with seeking to fight all forms of racism. On August 11, student dance group from Ben-Gurion University refused to participate in the largest international festival of culture in Edinburgh because of threats from Palestinian activists. Festival organisers could not guarantee the safety of the dancers. On August 4, National Student Union voted to boycott Israel, explaining it with seeking to fight all forms of racism . On August 21, a popular film director Ken Loach called for an “absolute boycott of all cultural events supported by the Israeli state”. Loach stated that Israel must become a “pariah state”.

On December 31, 2014, it was reported that a large publisher Harper Collins removed Israel from the atlases to be sold in the Middle East, to avoid possible dissatisfaction of its Arab customers.

On June 10th, 2015, it became known that one of the leading Islamic UK organizations London Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) was in the center of a scandal because of anti-Semitic statements of its leader Abdur Raheem Green, who in the course of his preaching in Hyde Park said: "Why not remove the Jews as far as possible so that their stench would not bother us?"

According to a survey conducted by Populus, published on October 31, 2015, one of every seven young people in Britain sympathises with the Islamic State (IS) – a terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq. Majority of these respondents were Islamists. However, experts warn that among the respondents supporting IS there is a small but significant portion of non-Muslims who are unhappy with the British government and its foreign policy.

Data collected in 2014-2015 shows that anti-immigration sentiments are the most common manifestation of xenophobia in Britain. According to pewglobal.org, 65% of British people in 2014 and more than 50% in 2015 have negative attitude towards immigrants, including EU citizens. 70% were against the EU policy towards refugees. 45% were negative towards Roma in 2015, which is 8% higher than in 2014.

Only 7% of British people expressed anti-Semitic views. 28% were anti-Muslim (compared to 19% in 2014). 15% of respondents in 2015 expressed anti-LGBT views.

In February 2017 a poll run by the BBC and ComRes “revealed that the majority of British people would welcome refugees from places like Syria into their local communities (56%), and nearly half would like to see the UK accept more refugees (47%).” The poll also demonstrated that the British public feels strong support for welcoming refugees, “with 55% of people asked saying that accepting refugees is a sign of ‘Britain at its best’”, while also demonstrating that efforts to demonise immigrants and asylum seekers by the right-wing media have been unsuccessful as 65% of respondents stated that the terrorist attacks in Cologne “were carried out by a small number of people and should not affect our willingness to accept migrants into the UK.”

The Traveller Movement conducted a survey into discrimination of Roma, Gypsies and the Traveller culture. They found that 72% of the respondents to poll “hide their ethnicity in their everyday lives in order to avoid racism and discrimination.” The Traveller Movement stated that the “results were clear; hate speech/crime and education are the areas GTR communities feel they need most help in order to have the same opportunities and chances in life when compared to other communities.”

The Pew Research Centre conducted their annual Spring Global Attitudes Survey again in 2016, which revealed public perception on minority communities. The first question asked respondents in Europe to state how they viewed minority communities as either favourable or unfavourable, with a higher number indicating a higher percentage of people have an unfavourable view. The results showed that, somewhat encouragingly, a majority of people viewed every minority group listed - Roma, Muslims and Jews - in a favourable light. Roma were seen least positively, with 45% of people asked stating that they perceived them as negatively, then Muslims (28%) and Jews (7%). Unfortunately, answers for people from the UK indicate an increase in people viewing the Roma and Muslim communities as unfavourable, up from 37% and 19% respectively. Jews were viewed as the same with 7% viewing them as unfavourable. This shift in attitudes towards the Muslim and Roma communities is all but certainly in large part caused by the European Migrant crises and the Brexit campaign - both issues which generated increases in xenophobic sentiment. The Jewish community, however, is not as linked to these issues in the public’s mind’s eye. Indeed, it seems there have been similar shifts in public views towards Roma and Muslims in Spain, Germany and Greece.

The next table in the Pew Global Attitude Survey examined how these changed across the political spectrum. Here, the more attitudes shift from Left to Right the greater the statistical probability that a respondent holds negative views towards Muslims. This will come as little surprise to any political observers, given the Left’s historically solid commitment to anti-racism and anti-fascism and the far-right’s association with nationalism and patriotism.

The third dataset explored respondents’ views on their nation’s Muslim community’s willingness to integrate with the host culture, or their desire to retain their own distinctiveness. Here the UK respondents mainly felt that Muslims would rather be distinct from the larger society than adopt the country’s customs and way of life. However, the percentage of people answering this that they felt this - 54% - was still 4% less than the median for all countries polled, which was 58%.

Further, when asked their opinion on how many members of the UK Muslim population support Islamic extremist groups such as Isis, on the whole people thought this to be a small percentage. Indeed, only 5% answered that “Most” were members, 12% answered “Many”, 29% answered “Just Some”, and 48% answered “Very Few”. Whilst all the European countries polled were skeptical about the support their nation’s Muslim community gave to Isis, Britain still had comparably more positive views in this matter than all countries but Germany and the Netherlands. Further, Pew reveal that in “countries such as France and the UK where fewer people believe that most or many Muslims in their nation support extremists groups, the political divisions are stark ... About four-in-ten UKIP partisans (41%) express the same concern about Muslims versus just 10% of Labour supporters.”

However, it was also the case that higher numbers of both those who saw Muslims favourably and those how saw them unfavorably had proportionally higher percentages of people who considered large numbers of refugees leaving countries like Iraq and Syria as a major threat than those in all other countries other than Poland, Greece and Hungary.

Further, more people from the UK consider refugees to be a burden because they “take our jobs and social benefits” (46%) then consider that refugees “make our country stronger because of their work and talents” (42%). Similarly, marginally more UK respondents considered that the presence of refugees was likely to increase the risk of terrorism (52%) then consider the reverse to be true (41%), although the difference between the two positions in both these questions is extremely narrow.

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