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Support for burqa ban differs among young and old

Support for burqa ban differs among young and old

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday January 17 2017

Polling agency YouGov has released polling results from a tri-nation survey comprising Germany, the US and the UK, on popular support for banning the burqa.

Following the Moroccan government’s announcement last week of a ban on the sale, production and import of the burqa, and bans on the garment in several European countries; Belgium, Bulgaria and France, as well as considerations of a ban publicly declared in Switzerland and Germany, the polling agency questioned 1,609 individuals in the UK and 7,101 individuals in Germany (sample for the US is not provided) and compared results across the three countries on attitudes towards the introduction of a ban in the respective countries.

The results show a number of interesting variations in the three countries:

Germans are strongly in favour of the introduction of a burqa ban with 69% agreeing “a law against the wearing of a full body and face veil should be introduced.”

Brits are also in favour with 50% agreeing with the introduction of a ban against 38% who said “people should be allowed to decide for themselves what to wear (including burqas and niqabs)”.

The US displays the most liberal attitudes among the three countries with only 25% agreeing with the introduction of a ban against 60% who said people should be allowed to wear what they want.

YouGov notes no change in the results from the US, as compared to a similar poll conducted in August 2015, although results from a poll done in the UK last summer was differently framed and therefore not directly comparable. 

The poll results also reveal stark variations by age group. The polling data shows that “One of the strongest indicators of support for a ban is a person’s age: in each of the three countries support for a burqa ban increases as people get older.”

In the UK, almost three-quarters of people aged over 65, 72%, supported a law banning the burqa compared to just over a third of 18-24 year olds, 36%.

Half of young Britons, 50% said people should be allowed to wear what they want compared to 22% of over 65s who said the same.

In Germany, almost 4 in 5 Germans aged over 55 supported a ban (79%) compared to just under half of 18-24 year olds, 45%. Young Germans are also more likely to oppose a ban, 36% against 14% of Germans aged over 55.

In the US, support for a ban is around 10% among people aged under 30 but reaches 50% among those aged over 65. And as with results observed in the other two countries, young Americans are more likely to oppose a ban (65%) than older Americans (45%).

In the UK, support for a ban is highest among UKIP and Conservative supporters; 74% and 61% respectively, and lowest among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, 39% and 38% respectively.

London emerges as the most liberal with 41% of individuals from London supporting a ban compared to 54% of people from the Midlands region and 51% of people from the North and Scotland. Londoners are also more likely to oppose a ban, 48%, compared to other regions of the UK where opposition is 35% (Midlands), 37% (in the North) and 41% (Scotland).

The YouGov poll results, taken with other polling data on attitudes towards Muslims by age group, shows a startling divide between young and old in the UK. The differences by age evident in, for example, voting in the EU referendum, suggests there is more than needs to be done to examine potentially hostile attitudes towards Muslims among older people.

In a YouGov poll conducted in March 2015 on whether Britons felt Islam was “generally compatible with the values of British society”, two thirds of people aged over 65 said they felt there was a “fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society”. This compares to one third of young Britons who said the same, 34%.

In a report written by Professor Matthew Goodwin in 2013, exploring ‘The Roots of Extremism: The English Defence League and the Counter-Jihad Challenge’, a YouGov poll conducted for the analysis found stark differences between young and old. Goodwin noted: 

“Whereas 84 per cent of respondents from older generations (i.e. 60 years and above) supported the idea of reducing the number of Muslims in the country, this fell to 38 per cent among a more recent generation (i.e. those aged 18–24). Whereas 77 per cent of the oldest respondents saw Islam as a danger to the West, this fell to 32 per cent among the youngest respondents. Whereas 64 per cent of the oldest endorsed the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, this support fell to 37 per cent among the youngest.”

Results from a school survey conducted by Show Racism the Red Card and published in May 2015 shows that there is nothing to be complacent about when it comes to challenging negative attitudes among young people towards Muslims, immigrants and asylum seekers. But if the YouGov polls of recent years are anything to go by, there is much work that also needs to be done with older people.


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