According to conventional wisdom, Islam is a religion of peace and compassion. But even if it is not – such is the woolliness of received ideas – only a tiny minority of Muslims in this country hold extreme fundamentalist opinions. Actually, like most conventional wisdom, it is not really true. Muslims themselves disagree violently about what Islam truly is and have done for centuries. Meanwhile, a startlingly large proportion of young British Muslims hold what to most of us are outrageous and unacceptable views – views that they consider to be Muslim truths.
Four out of 10 Muslim students in Britain support the introduction of sharia into UK law for Muslims, according to a YouGov poll. Almost a third of them said that killing in the name of religion was justified; 40% said they felt it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely; and nearly a quarter do not think that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah.
A quarter of Muslim students said they had little or no respect for homosexuals. As for whether British Muslim servicemen should be allowed to opt out of hostilities with Muslim countries, 57% said they should and a further 25% said they were not sure.