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Younger Muslims ’more political’

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    Posted: 29 January 2007 at 1:45am

Younger Muslims 'more political'

Young Muslims are much more likely than their parents to be attracted to political forms of Islam, a think-tank survey has suggested.

Support for Sharia law, Islamic schools and wearing the veil is much stronger among younger generation Muslims, a poll for the Policy Exchange found.

The report's lead author, Munira Mirza, blamed government policy for a growing split between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Ministers should engage with Muslims as citizens, Ms Mirza said.

'Differences emphasised'

Policy Exchange discovered that while the majority of Muslims feel they have as much, if not more, in common with non-Muslims in Britain than with Muslims abroad, the figure dropped from 71% of over-55s to 62% among 16-24 year-olds.

Meanwhile, the percentage who said they would prefer to send their children to Islamic state schools increased from 19% for over-55 year olds to 37% of 16-24 year olds.

And, the number who said they would prefer to live under Sharia law than British law increased from 17% of over-55s to 37% of 16-24 year-olds.

Ms Mirza said the results suggested government policy was to blame for "sharpening divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims".

She said: "The emergence of a strong Muslim identity in Britain is, in part, a result of multicultural policies implemented since the 1980s, which have emphasised difference at the expense of shared national identity and divided people along ethnic, religious and cultural lines.

'Widespread concerns about Islamophobia'

"Islamist groups have gained influence at local and national level by playing the politics of identity and demanding for Muslims the 'right to be different'."

Ms Mirza said the government should stop emphasising differences and engage with Muslims as citizens.

However, despite widespread concerns about Islamophobia, 84% of Muslims believed they had been treated fairly in British society, the survey also found.

Twenty-eight per cent believed that authorities in Britain had gone "over the top" in trying not to offend Muslims.

A spokesman for the Department For Communities and Local Government said: "....From a period of near-uniform consensus on multiculturalism, we now face questions about how different groups can live side by side, respecting differences, whilst working together to develop a shared sense of belonging and purpose."

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion report is expected later this year.

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