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U.K. Muslims: Homosexuality Should Be Illegal

More than half of British Muslims say homosexuality should be illegal in the country, according to a poll that reveals stark differences between the attitudes of U.K. Muslims and the general public.

In addition to their views on homosexuality, 23 percent of British Muslims said they support introducing sharia law into areas of the U.K., and almost a third said it's acceptable for British Muslim men to have more than one wife, the survey by London polling firm ICM found.

The results are "extremely worrying," Trevor Phillips, former head of the country's Equality and Human Rights Commission, said. The poll suggests that Muslims constitute a "nation within a nation" and underscores the significant challenges in integrating the religious group into mainstream British culture, the Guardian reported.

While the poll revealed promising attitudes -- including 88 percent who said Britain is a good place for Muslims to live -- it showed the largest cultural divides concerning religion, sex and women's rights. For example, in addition to the sizable percentage of U.K. Muslims who support polygamy, 39 percent of respondents said "wives should always obey their husbands."

The poll's results will be explored in more detail on April 13, when Britain's Channel 4 -- a public broadcasting company similar to the U.S. station PBS -- will air a documentary about integrating Muslims into British society.

"I thought Europe's Muslims would gradually blend into the landscape," Phillips told The Sunday Times Magazine, per the Daily Mail. "I should have known better."

Khalid Mahmood, a Labour MP, said the poll makes it clear that, to successfully integrate Muslims, "their participation in British society needs to increase," The Guardian noted.

“What this [polling] highlights is that the community hasn’t progressed from what was happening in the 80s and ... that they have been isolated without being able to have further integration,” Mahmood said.

Other Muslims said the poll's methodology was flawed, or claimed that the poll didn't accurately capture the views of younger Muslims whose attitudes are more closely aligned with their fellow Brits.

But noting that the ICM poll involved more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews -- and a control group of more than 1,000 interviews conducted by phone -- pollster Anthony Wells said it has value in understanding cultural rifts.

"It’s probably the best attempt to poll British Muslims properly that we’ve seen for several years," Wells said, according to The Independent, "and given no one is waiting around the corner with a [check] for [over a million dollars] to do a more elaborately sampled poll than ICM’s, I think we should probably take this one seriously, but having due regard for the limitations of the sample."

Sources: The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Independent / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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