More British people associate the word "Muslim" with terror and terrorism than with any other quality, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the charity Islamic Relief.
The poll was aimed at identifying British views about Muslims and their religion. It revealed attitudes described as "extremely worrying" by Islamic Relief's UK director Jehangir Malik.
The charity asked people to name the three words they associate with the term "Muslim" and found that more think of "terror/terrorism/terrorist" (12 per cent) than "faith" (11 per cent) or "mosque" (nine per cent). Also represented were "anti-women", "extremist", "fanatic" and "intolerant", though all at levels of around four or five per cent.
The poll also found that attitudes toward refugees had hardened, with 42 per cent saying Britain should not take in foreign nationals fleeing conflict or persecution in their own countries. The figure rises to 47 per cent who say that people fleeing Syria and other Middle Eastern countries should not be given asylum, raising the concern that the perceived religion of the refugees from the region is influencing British attitudes towards them.
The Refugee Council's head of advocacy, Dr Lisa Doyle, said religion should not play a part in shaping the response to humanitarian crises. "These findings should provide the Government with a grave reminder of the importance of leadership when setting the tone of the debate around refugee and asylum policy," she said.
Islamic Relief's Jehangir Malik said: "The results of this poll are extremely worrying because they show that public attitudes towards Muslims are hugely negative and attitudes towards refugees have hardened significantly.
"It's time we celebrated the role British Muslims play as part of the solution rather than demonising the Muslim community as part of the problem."