Study finds Muslims keen to integrate

Most Muslims feel part of Australian society a new Griffith University study has found.

Published in the latest issue of the Journal of Sociology, the study challenges popular assumptions that Muslims are opposed to integration and reject Western values, says lead researcher Dr Halim Rane (pictured).

“We surveyed 428 Muslims in Queensland to identify their opinions and attitudes on key social and public policy issues,” he said

“Almost half of the respondents (49 per cent) identified themselves as a Muslim first and then an Australian, but 29 per cent identified themselves as an Australian and Muslim equally.

“While these findings are encouraging, there is an indication that limitations to feelings of ‘Australianness’ among Muslims may be due to perceptions of exclusion and being part of an ‘out-group’ rather than an unwillingness to integrate.”

The study found 71 per cent believed that Muslims should integrate by learning English, while 13 per cent said that Muslims should be completely integrated into Australian society.

“Only 14 per cent felt they should integrate by learning English but retain all parts of their identity and mix with their own community as much as possible, and only one per cent believed that Muslims should not integrate at all,” Dr Rane said.

On issues of democracy and gender equality, 74 per cent believed that Islam was compatible with democracy, while 14 per cent disagreed and 12 per cent believed most aspects of Islam were not compatible with democracy. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents believed in gender equality.

“Contrary to popular misconceptions that associate misogyny with Islam, we found that among those who stated they had a ‘very strong’ or ‘strong’ commitment to Islam, 94 per cent and 89 per cent agreed that Islam supports gender equality,” Dr Rane said.

“While this is promising, more research is needed to determine Muslims’ understanding of gender equality.”

Participants were also asked how they would respond if they knew of a Muslim planning a terrorist attack in Australia.

“Indicative of the Muslim community’s almost complete rejection of terrorism, 97 per cent expressed opposition by stating they would either ‘advise the person against committing the act’ (17 per cent), ‘report the person to a leader of the Muslim community’ (24 per cent), or ‘report the person to the police’ (56 per cent).

“An overwhelming majority of 90 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘the targeting of innocent civilians is never allowed in Islam’.”

The research was conducted by researchers at the Griffith Islamic Research Unit in 2010.