Muslim schoolchildren ‘more liberal and tolerant’

Muslim pupils are more liberal and tolerant than their white counterparts, according to a study released on Wednesday. Nearly a third of white youngsters questioned in Burnley, Lancashire believed that one race was superior, compared with 10% of Asians who thought the same. Almost half of the white pupils felt that respecting others regardless of religion was not important and a quarter did not feel it was important to tolerate people with different views.

More than 400 15-year-olds were surveyed about their attitudes towards race, religion and cultural integration earlier this year. The research was conducted by Lancaster University’s religious studies department. The pupils came from three unnamed non-religious schools, all in deprived areas. One in Burnley, attended mostly by white pupils, and two schools in Blackburn, where one had mostly Indian or Pakistani pupils and the other was ethnically mixed.

Study author Dr Andrew Holden said a “disturbing” finding of the survey was the response to the question of racial superiority. Nearly a third of the white pupils believed one race was superior compared with a tenth in the Asian school and under a fifth in the mixed school. Dr Holden said: “The greater degree of racial tolerance in an overwhelmingly Asian/Muslim populated school again calls into question the common sense assumption that mixed schools represent the most tolerant environments.”

TES, 20 September 2006

See also “Research reveals Muslim pupils more tolerant than non-Muslims”, Lancaster University news release, 20 September 2006