55% of Brits support racial profiling of Muslims: Arab News/YouGov poll

Updated 25 September 2017
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55% of Brits support racial profiling of Muslims: Arab News/YouGov poll

LONDON: The majority of Britons agree with racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims, and 69 percent think the UK should take in fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq, an Arab News/YouGov poll has found.
The wide-ranging poll of 2,142 adults found that UK residents have strong feelings about key Middle East issues — including the fight against Daesh and war in Iraq — but 81 percent admitted to knowing little or nothing about the Arab world.
The results of the “UK attitudes toward the Arab world” survey are published today in Arab News and are being unveiled at a media event held in London.
One of the main findings of the poll, which was conducted in conjunction with the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), was that 55 percent of Brits agree with racial profiling against Arabs and Muslims for security reasons.
The “UK attitudes toward the Arab world” poll, which was conducted in mid-August, illustrates a disparity in UK public opinion on the Arab world.
Seven in 10 believe the UK should take in fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq, rising to 91 percent among those who voted for the UK to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. More than six in 10 of the respondents feel that Arabs who migrated to the UK and Europe have failed to integrate in Western societies.
But 72 percent also point to the problem of rising Islamophobia in the UK, with 70 percent saying anti-refugee statements from politicians and others risk sparking more hate crimes.
The poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe the UK should recognize Palestine as a state. Most Brits are dissatisfied with UK foreign policy on the Arab world, with 57 percent saying it has been largely ineffective in upholding human rights and promoting global security. More than half of those polled support Britain’s current military intervention against Daesh, while eight in 10 Brits believe going to war in Iraq in 2003 was wrong.
Despite holding strong views on these key topics, most Brits admit to knowing little or nothing about the Arab world, and 41 percent say they would never travel to the region.
“The poll results strongly suggest that the UK public is dissatisfied with British diplomatic intervention in the Arab world, but that Brits also lack knowledge about some of the complexities of the region,” said Faisal J. Abbas, the editor in chief of Arab News.
“The Arab world is home to some of the poorest countries in the world, yet nearly a third of Brits associate it with being wealthy. One may ask what impact such perceptions might have on aid decisions made by Western governments.”
Chris Doyle, director of CAABU, said the apparent lack of a broader awareness in the UK about the Arab world was cause for concern.
“Considering the enormous importance of the Arab world to Britain, it is alarming that 81 percent of the British population say they know little or nothing about this vital region. Whilst a third want to learn more, a massive 41 percent would not visit the region,” he said.
“At a time when mutual understanding is more needed than ever, this chasm must be addressed — something we at CAABU intend to do.”

• For full report and related articles please visit: How Brits view Arab world


US, allies set to evacuate Syrian aid workers from southwest

Updated 30 min 4 sec ago
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US, allies set to evacuate Syrian aid workers from southwest

  • US officials say the United States is finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria
  • Two officials familiar with the plans said Thursday that the US, Britain and Canada are spearheading the evacuation that would transport members of the White Helmets group to transit camps

WASHINGTON: US officials say the United States is finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces close in on the area.
Two officials familiar with the plans said Thursday that the US, Britain and Canada are spearheading the evacuation that would transport members of the White Helmets group to transit camps in neighboring countries. From there, they will be sent to third countries, including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Canada, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
The officials, and a member of the White Helmets who is due to be evacuated from Quneitra province, said the operation appears to be imminent as the Syrian army continues to gain ground in its latest offensive. The White Helmets, who have enjoyed backing from the US and other Western nations for years, are likely to be targeted by Syrian forces as they retake control of the southwest, according to the officials.
The officials said planning for the evacuation has been taking place for some time but accelerated after last week’s NATO summit in Brussels.
“These are hard hours and minutes,” the White Helmets volunteer in Quneitra said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for his life. “This is the worst day of my life. I hope they rescue us before it is too late.”
The evacuation is expected to take place from Quneitra, which straddles the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and where the civil defense team is trapped. It is the last sliver of land still outside government control in the region.
Since the government offensive began in June, the area along the frontier with the Golan Heights has been the safest in the southwestern region, attracting hundreds of displaced people because is along the disengagement line with Israel demarcated in 1974 after a war. The Syrian government is unlikely to fire there or carry out airstrikes.
Negotiations are also ongoing to evacuate armed rebels and their families who don’t want to accept the return of the rule of Bashar Assad’s government to Quneitra, which the rebels have controlled for years. The fighters will be evacuated to the northern part of Syria, where the opposition still holds sway.
Except for that sliver of land, the southern tip of the southwestern region lies along the border with Jordan and the Golan Heights and is occupied by a Daesh-affiliated group. The area is expected to be the target of the next government advances and the civil defense teams don’t operate there.
The White Helmets are not without controversy. They only operate in opposition-held areas, where government services are almost non-existent and aerial bombings are recurrent. Syrian government supporters accuse them of being politically affiliated with the rebel groups. Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly accused them of staging chemical attacks in opposition areas, a charge that has never been proven.
They have continued to receive US support even as President Donald Trump presses ahead with his plans to withdraw all American forces from Syria as soon as Islamic State forces are routed.
In June, the State Department freed up a small portion — $6.6 million out of some $200 million — in frozen funding for Syria stabilization programs to keep the White Helmets operating through the end of this year.
In other parts of Syria, where government control has been restored, civil defense volunteers have almost always evacuated to other opposition-controlled areas. It is not clear why this time they will be evacuated out of the country.