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Four out of 10 British Muslims want Sharia

The poll conducted by ICM also found that one in five expressed sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the July 7 bombers.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 19:51 IST
Vijay Dutt

If the poll of 500 British Muslims were given any credence, it would not be surprising if, at some stage, Sharia law would govern many parts of Britain.

According to the poll by ICM, four out of 10 British Muslims (in total about two millions in the UK) want Sharia law introduced into parts of the country.

This would mean almost entire north England and major parts of Midlands being ruled under Sharia.

A noted scholar Alasdair Palmer commenting on the findings said that Islamists would persuade a "weak and deluded" government to accept Sharia in the Muslim dominated areas. Islamic communities within Britain will form a state within a state.

"Religion will occupy an ever-larger place in our collective life. And speaking as a religious person myself I fear that outcome," he said.

The opinion poll also found that one in five expressed sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the July 7 suicide bombers who killed 52 innocent people in London, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out such an atrocity.

Overall the findings depict Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream, although 91 per cent said they felt loyal to Britain.

The survey, for the Sunday Telegraph, follows a fresh protest in Trafalgar Square by 15,000 Muslims against the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and more bloodshed over them in Nigeria and Libya.

The announcement of cash prize by a UP minister to eliminate one of the cartoonists was also noticed by the people and media here. Citing the award announced by a radical leader in Pakistan of cash and a car a commentator bemusedly said it seems they have run out of virgins, a reference to the promises made to suicide bombers by Al-Qaeda leaders.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP appointed to the task force set up after the 7/7 attacks, called the findings "alarming". He said, "Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society." But Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain said the poll confirmed the widespread opposition of Muslims to the so-called war on terror.

Commentators said the most startling finding of the poll was the high level of support for applying Sharia law in "pre-dominantly Muslim" areas in the country.

Almost two-thirds believed video images of British troops beating Iraqi youths, uncovered last week, were representative of a wider problem in the war-ravaged country. Exactly half predicted the soldiers responsible will not be "appropriately published".

Sharia Law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, specifies stoning and amputations as routine punishments. Religious police are responsible for bringing suspects before special courts.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 19:51 IST