Westerners: Guilty of Reading the News

In August, the polling company YouGov conducted an opinion survey among 2,000 members of the British public. The poll, carried out in partnership with Arab News, the Saudi paper owned by a member of the Saudi royal family, was published September 25.

As might be expected from such a publication, the questions asked of the British public, and the answers received, suited a particular line of argument: the survey evidently sought to find evidence of “Islamophobic” attitudes. It duly found that 41% of the British public polled said that Arab immigrants and refugees had not added anything to society and 55% agreed in principle with the profiling of Arabs for security reasons. The Arab News/YouGov poll also found that 72% of the British public think that “Islamophobia” is getting worse in the UK.

Alongside this report came the surprising finding that a similar number of British people (7 in 10) believe that “the rise in Islamophobic comments by politicians and others are fuelling hate crime.”

All of this presents a fascinating as well as slightly confused picture. Why should the same percentage of the public believe that “Islamophobia” is getting worse but that politicians in Britain are fuelling it? Let alone that politicians are fuelling an alleged rise in “hate crime” — the upsurge in which is constantly promised yet mercifully never occurs? It is clearly the aim of Arab News — as with many other media companies from the same region — to present Britain as a bigoted and unenlightened place — a country filled with primitive and medieval views of “the other”. As opposed to, say, an enlightened and welcoming family fiefdom like that of Saudi Arabia, where attitudes towards foreigners and incomers are renowned the world over for their tolerance and good humour.

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