An opinion poll commissioned and released by Channel 4 TV news, a respected current affairs programme in the UK, has revealed alarming levels of disaffection among Muslims in Britain – including distrust for the authorities and doubts over the official version of the 7/7 bombings.
If the findings of the random sample are accurate, some 24 per cent of Britain's two million Muslims believe that the government may have had a role in staging the 7 July 2005 suicide attacks on a bus and underground trains.
A quarter think that the four men named as the killers of 52 passengers on the London transport system were not necessarily responsible for the attacks, drawing on conspiracy theories doing the rounds on the web – in a fashion similar to those concerning the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
The poll coincides with PM Tony Blair’s attempt to court and encourage moderate Muslim opinion at a Cambridge sponsored international conference.
A statistician told Ekklesia that the sampling and control technique for the 500 people randomly surveyed appeared ‘sound’, but that the margin of error was bound to be higher than for a 1,000 selection, and “it is well known that the context and framing of the questions impacts the response”.
Nevertheless, Channel 4 argues that its research unveils a significant level of dissent and dissatisfaction among British Muslims – stressing that the skepticism is not being expressed by ‘extremists’ but by mainstream followers of Islam who feel isolated, attacked and vilified by the state, the media and civil society.
The survey indicates that up to six in 10 of British Muslims believe the government may have not told the whole truth about the 2005 bombings.
More than half of those polled also felt the security services were likely have made up evidence to convict terror suspects – as actually happened in earlier, non-Muslim related miscarriages of justice such as the cases of the Birmingham six and the Guilford four (related to IRA violence).
Muslims subsequently interviewed by Channel 4 News believed that the CCTV images of the four men arriving at Luton station en route to London were ''faked'' and cast doubt on the two “martyrdom videos” of Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, who admitted responsibility for the 7/7 bombs.
Others, including a respectable medical practitioner, said that the men had been made "convenient scapegoats".
More than 60 per cent of those polled for the GFK-NOP survey said they were worried that British police could kill people they suspected of being Muslim terrorists, as in the infamous De Menenez Stockwell shooting.
Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, where three of the July 7 bombers lived, said the findings were "disturbing" and there were a lot of people "in denial".
But writing on The Times’ website in response to Mr Blair’s remarks, Marie Xeno pointed in a different direction.
She wrote: “What's a 'moderate Muslim'? Someone that doesn't mind the invasion and occupation of Muslim countries and the slaughter of countless people there? We will see the end of 'extremist' Muslims when we see the end of 'extremist' leaders in the West. It's not rocket science although it is in a lot of people's interests to pretend that it is.”