The BBC got into a spot of difficulty earlier this year over its attempts to put a positive spin on a BBC/ComRes survey in which 27% of British Muslims expressed some sympathy with those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
The BBC headlined its findings, "Most British Muslims 'oppose Muhammad cartoons reprisals'"; other media organisation chose headlines such as "One in four British Muslims 'have some sympathy for motives behind Charlie Hebdo attacks'" (The Independent) or "Quarter of British Muslims sympathise with Charlie Hebdo terrorists" (The Daily Telegraph).
Such behaviour fuelled claims that the BBC is far from impartial in its reporting of such stories, that it actually pursues an agenda to downplay negative angles, often downplaying or ignoring them.
It will be interesting then to see how or even if the BBC reports the latest Huffington Post/YouGov poll into the British public's attitude towards Islam. So far I can't see a thing.
The question they posed was a highly specific one, asking their respondents to focus on Islam in general rather than on Islamic extremists:
Do you feel that Islam (as distinct from Islamic fundamentalist groups) poses a threat to Western liberal democracy?The results were:
27% said 'Yes', it's 'a major threat'29% said 'Yes', it's 'some threat'20% said 'No', it's 'not much threat'15% said 'No', it's 'no threat at all'8% said 'Don't know'
That's a total of 56% saying Islam is a threat to Western liberal democracy compared to just 35% saying Islam isn't a threat to Western liberal democracy...
...and even the majority of that 35% who said 'No' chose the 'not much threat' option rather than the 'no threat at all' option.
The results also show a significant shift in attitudes over the years. In 2001 (in a post-9/11 poll), the figures were almost reversed (32% saying Islam is a threat, 63% saying it isn't), and even in 2005 (in a post-7/7 poll) the figures were pretty evenly split (46% saying Islam in a threat, 47% saying it isn't a threat).
That is a major shift in public opinion. Will the BBC cover it?