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British Muslims in Numbers

British Muslims in Numbers

Categories: Latest News

Thursday February 12 2015

The Daily Telegraph front page today affords space to the new report by the Muslim Council of Britain on British Muslims in Numbers.

The report, which contains socio-economic, educational, health and employment statistics about British Muslims as extracted from the 2011 census also features in the Daily Mirror, the Guardian, The Times and BBC News.

Many of the papers lead with the figure on the young age profile of the British Muslim population and the doubling in the number of Muslims of school age in the last decade.

The Daily Mail notes that “one in 12 school pupils now brought up in Islamic faith”.

The Times covers the generational, cultural and social shifts in the last decade citing evidence from the census on the ethnic diversity within the Muslim community and the changes in household composition and individual lifestyles. The paper quotes Dr Sundas Ali, lead author of the report, who said “Mosque committees need to better represent the way the Muslim population in Britain is organised. For example, if one mosque is just restricted on a particular ethnic group it should maybe become more diverse and have other ethnic groups.”

The Daily Telegraph notes the educational advancements among British Muslims in the last decade with the numbers of those without formal qualifications falling from 39% in 2001 to 26% in 2011. This represents a significant drop though is still above the average for White Britons, 23%.

Comparing Muslim educational attainment with those of other faith groups, the data shows that “Muslim communities in 2011 are doing comparatively better than in 2001 but lag behind Sikhs and Hindus. Looking at Muslims over the age of 16, 24% have qualifications of Level Four and above (degree level). For the general population this is 27%, for Hindus 45% and Sikhs 30%.”

Addressing the ‘Eurabia’ fears that have sometimes been stoked when the rise and demographics of the British Muslim community are discussed, the MCB reports states, “A section of the society comprising one in 20 of persons in the overall population can hardly ‘take over’.”

British Muslims comprise 4.8% of the total population in the UK making them the largest faith group after Christians.

Professor Anthony Heath, of the Universities of Oxford and Manchester highlighted the glaring disparity between perceptions of the Muslim community as unintegrated, saying “We shouldn’t be alarmist, the majority of younger Muslims are talking advantage of British educational opportunities, they are going to university in pretty high numbers, we are finding higher levels of gender equality.”

Heath said that while sympathies for ISIL among “a tiny minority – a very worrying minority” was a great concern, “It shouldn’t distract [from the fact] that the average [Muslim] is showing a greater integration and a greater commitment to Britain.”

Levels of education nonetheless have not eliminated the high levels of job discrimination faced by British Muslims, as uncovered in recent analysis by Dr Nabil Khattab, again drawing on data from the 2011 census.

In an election year, it is inevitable that some focus would fall on the Muslim population in parliamentary constituencies. As we have documented in our party conference presentations in the last two years, the number of Muslim voters in key marginals is likely to play an important role in the forthcoming general election.


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