Humayun Ansari is a Professor of History of Islam and Culture in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London.
On the 8th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, and in the aftermath of the killing of British army soldier Lee Rigby, it is timely to assess how Islamophobia within Britain’s political landscape has evolved since that tragic day in July 2005. Much evidence suggests that Islamophobia has moved beyond small fringe far-right groups to being far more widespread across broad sections of the population.
While the majority of Britons certainly do not regard Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, the proportion leaning towards this position has doubled since 7/7. In 2011, 75 percent viewed Islam as the most violent religion and 43 percent saw Muslims as fanatical. Worryingly, large segments of British society today believe that Muslims possess dual loyalties and the number of those who perceive Islam as a threat to Western liberal democracy has risen sharply.
In a survey conducted immediately after the Woolwich murder, 59 percent of respondents regarded a "clash of civilisations" as inevitable, with only a third, in contrast, deeming Islam as compatible with the "British way of life"....