The Challenge of Islam in the UK

Nov 23, 2017 by

by Tim Dieppe, Christian Concern:

The Influence of Islam.

The fastest growing religion in the UK.

At the last census in 2011, there were 2.7m Muslims in the UK, or 4.8% of the population.[1] This has risen quite rapidly from only 105,000 in 1960.[2] The previous census in 2001 showed a Muslim population of 1.6m. Islam was therefore the fastest growing religion in the UK over the ten-year period, showing growth of nearly 70%. Pew Research estimate that by 2030, Muslims will have reached 8% of the population.[3] Already, 8.1% of all school age children are Muslim.[4] The name Muhammad, when allowing for spelling variants, has been the top boys name for babies in Britain for five years running.[5]

Segregation and lack of integration

The Policy Exchange report: “Unsettled Belonging: A survey of Britain’s Muslim communities”, published in 2016, claimed to be the most extensive research of British Muslims ever conducted.[6] The report found that 53% of Muslims were born outside the UK, while 93% had parents born outside the UK. This demonstrates that much of the growth is occurring through immigration.

According to the report, 43% of Muslims support the introduction of sharia law broadly defined. 53% prefer to send their children to a school with strong ‘Muslim values’. 44% said that schools should be able to insist on ‘a hijab or niqab’ in uniform, while 32% disagreed with this.

The government commissioned Dame Louise Casey to review integration in society. Her report was published in December 2016.[7] She found that there is indeed a problem in terms of integration of religious minorities. In a striking statement, she said:

None of the 800 or more people that we met, nor any of the two hundred plus written submissions to the review, said there wasn’t a problem to solve.[8]

In many ways it is encouraging that there is widespread recognition of the problem. This also means that that it is becoming more politically acceptable to say that there is a problem here.

Casey articulated something of a cultural clash in some of our communities:

I also found  … cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws. Time and time again I found it was women and children who were the targets of these regressive practices. And too often, leaders and institutions were not doing enough to stand up against them and protect those who were vulnerable.[9]

She made clear that many institutions are too accommodating out of fear of being labelled Islamophobic:

Too many public institutions, national and local, state and non-state, have gone so far to accommodate diversity and freedom of expression that they have ignored or even condoned regressive, divisive and harmful cultural and religious practices, for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic.

… At its most serious, it might mean public sector leaders ignoring harm or denying abuse.[10]

She highlighted Islam in particular, and said:

We found a growing sense of grievance among sections of the Muslim population, and a stronger sense of identification with the plight of the ‘Ummah’, or global Muslim community.[11]

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