Despite government efforts over the last several years to reach out to community leaders — a tricky proposition, given that Muslims hardly speak with one voice — many Muslims have hardened their resentment of their country.
British policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now in Lebanon, are just the most recent in a long list of grievances — cultural, economic and political — among Muslims here. For a few, that has manifested itself in extremism and violence. For many others, it has meant a sharpening of a continuing struggle between two competing identities.
In a recent poll of Muslims in 13 countries conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 81 percent of those surveyed in Britain said they considered themselves Muslims first and Britons second. This contrasts with Spain, where 69 percent of those surveyed considered themselves Muslims first and Spaniards second; Germany, where the comparable number is 66 percent, and even Jordan, with 67 percent.
or Muslims, with their adherence to religion in a country that is aggressively secular and their feelings of brotherhood with Muslims in the Middle East, the feelings of alienation are particularly acute.
«The war on terrorism is the war on us,» said Mohammed Mowaz, 29, a computer engineer interviewed outside the Queen’s Road Mosque in Walthamstow, referring generally to Muslims.
Khalid Mahmood, a member of Parliament from Birmingham, said that Muslims found it all too easy to shrug off the radicalization of some parts of their culture, particularly among young men.
«They are reluctant to discuss what reality is and come to terms with it,» he said.