Press Release: 55% of Brits support racial profiling against Arabs and Muslims: Arab News / Caabu / YouGov poll

Press Release: 55% of Brits support racial profiling against Arabs and Muslims: Arab News / Caabu / YouGov poll


  • Public thinks UK foreign policy is failing in Middle East, according to survey of 2,000+ Brits conducted in conjunction with Caabu

    70% believe anti-refugee statements by politicians and others risk sparking hate crimes

    Seven in 10 think Britain should take fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq

    Full results of survey unveiled at media event in London



    LONDON (25 September 2017): 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 (the so-called Islamic State) and war in Iraq — but 81 percent admitted to knowing little or nothing about the Arab world.

    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 European Union 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.”

    This year marks Caabu’s 50th anniversary, after it was founded on the terrace of the House of Commons back in 1967 after the Six-Day War. Since then it has grown to become one of the most active NGOs working on the Middle East in British Parliament and working to build an understanding of the Arab World in Britain.

    The results of the “UK attitudes toward the Arab world” were announced to global media at an event in London on September 25, 2017. The full results can be found on the Arab News website,



    Established in 1975, Arab News is the Middle East’s leading English-language daily. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the newspaper is renowned for providing the Arab perspective on international affairs via its network of reporters, opinion writers and analysts. It is considered the newspaper of record on major Arab affairs for a large number of global media outlets, governments and academic institutions. It can be read online at


    The Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) is a not-for-profit cross-party organization whose mission is to work for a British Middle East policy that promotes conflict resolution, human rights and civil society in the Arab world through informed debate and mutual understanding. 


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