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'Hardening' in attitude to refugees


Muslim leaders described the results as "worrying"

Muslim leaders described the results as "worrying"

Muslim leaders described the results as "worrying"

Nearly half of Britons do not believe refugees should be welcomed into the UK, research suggests.

Some 42% said Britain should not take in foreign nationals fleeing conflict or persecution in their own countries, according to a poll of more than 6,000 people.

Meanwhile, 47% said the UK should not provide refuge to people fleeing Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, the YouGov survey found.

The charity Islamic Relief, which commissioned the research, said the results showed a "dramatic hardening of views" towards refugees.

Just 31% of people believed the UK should not welcome refugees in a similar survey of 5,000 people last year, it said.

The findings come after Britain helped rescue more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya this month, where hundreds are feared to have drowned so far this year trying to make the crossing to Europe.

The survey also revealed that the British public associate Muslims with terrorism more than any other issue.

"Extremist" and "misogynistic" were also phrases most likely to be linked to the religion by Britons, according to the poll.

Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief's UK director, said: "The results of this poll are extremely worrying because they show that public attitudes towards Muslims are hugely negative and attitudes towards refugees have hardened significantly.

"It's time we celebrated the role British Muslims play as part of the solution rather than demonising the Muslim community as part of the problem."

Researchers asked 6,640 people which three words or phrases they most associated with the term "Muslim".

Some 12% said terror, terrorist or terrorism - the most frequently given phrase - ahead of faith (11%), mosque (9%), Koran (8%) and religious (8%).

Meanwhile, 5% of people said extremist or misogynist, while Allah, Mohammed and prayer were also on 5%.

Labour MP Mary Creagh said: "Muslim charities play a vital role in delivering aid to some of the world's most vulnerable people in some of the world's most dangerous places."

British Muslims donate more than £100 million to charity during Ramadan alone, and Islamic Relief's Ramadan Appeal raised a record £19 million last year - including a £5 million donation from the UK Government, according to the charity.

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