Part II: Muslims perceptions of British cobat troops

Psychiatr Danub. 2017 Sep;29(Suppl 3):173-178.


Background: On the 22nd May 2017, suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Manchester Arena killing 22 people and injuring 116 others. Following the 'massacre in Manchester', the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, linked UK foreign policy with terrorism on British soil. Controversial and contentious though Corbyn's claims may be, the terrorists themselves have also reported that what motivates them to carry out their abominable atrocities are British military operations in Muslim majority countries. Indeed, on the 22nd May 2013, British serviceman, Lee Rigby, was brutally attacked and killed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London. The perpetrators of this heinous act told passers-by at the scene that they wanted to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British Armed Forces.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, mixed-methods study on Muslim perceptions of British combat troops and UK foreign policy. Participants were selected by purposive sampling. We crafted a survey that explored Muslim perceptions of the British military and the government's foreign policy. Response items were on a Likert-scale and there was white space for free text comments which were subjected to thematic analyses.

Results: 75/75 (100%) of the participants recruited responded. (75/75 (100%) Muslim participants, 43/75 (57.3%) female participants, 32/75 (42.7%) male participants, mean age 20.5 years, (Std. Dev. ±2.5)). 66/75 (88%) of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that British military operations in Muslim majority countries have negatively influenced perceptions towards combat troops. 42/75 (56%) of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that contact with a combat troops or veterans would positively influence their perceptions towards them. Themes of free text comments included the role that the media plays in demonising Muslims, the transcendental bond that Muslims around the world have for each other and 'the brainwashing' of British combat troops by the Government.

Discussion: The fact that many of the participants in our sample agreed or strongly agreed that social contact with service personnel or veterans would positively influence perceptions towards them is encouraging. The results of our survey lend support for future intervention studies investigating whether contact between Muslims residing in the UK and British combat troops would promote unity and community cohesion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Islam*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Perception
  • Suicide*
  • Young Adult