Whether strong religious identity, and the ethical views that go with it, necessarily undercut national identity has long furrowed brows,especially in Western secular democracies with heavy immigration.
Terrorist attacks in London and Madrid, and racial unrest in France, have made the debate more urgent. What makes for national cohesion? A study put out on May 7th by Gallup, a polling organisation, casts new light on the matter.
Few would be amazed to learn that European Muslims are much more conservative socially than their non-Muslim compatriots. What is surprising is how wide the gap is in Britain. Gallup looked at attitudes in France, Germany and Britain on some key issues of personal morality among adherents of Islam and the public in general. The gap between Muslims and others on the acceptability of homosexuality,
abortion and premarital sex was wider in Britain than in either Germany or France (see chart 1), even though British non-Muslims professed themselves more strait-laced than their continental counterparts on most issues…