Against the background of the growing migrant crisis in Europe due to an influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, certain analysts believe that the question of how Muslims are being treated in the United Kingdom can become one of the most pivotal questions in British politics.
According to the latest report of the Muslim Council of Britain, which in turn is based on analysis of data collected by the Office for National Statistics, the Muslim population of England and Wales has doubled over the last 10 years, reaching the mark of 3 million people, or 5% of the population of the UK. And as a result, in some areas of London, Muslims constitute a half of the total number of inhabitants. If this trend continues, in the next 10 years these areas may become predominately Muslim communities.
The sharp increase in the number of Muslims is being observed against the background of the rapidly aging Christian population of the country. This can quite rapidly lead to a situation where Islam will become the dominant religion in the UK in the next 10 years.
According to official figures, the Muslim population of the UK is growing faster than any other community in the country. Muslims are showing high birth rates while the number of old people in their communities remains relatively low. One in three Muslims in the UK is under the age of 15 years, compared to one in five for the rest of the population.
Half of the Muslim population of England and Wales are second and third generations of migrants that inherited citizenship by right of birth. It’s curious that 73% of them identify themselves as British, while 2/3 of the Muslim population are ethnic Asians.
However, the rise of Islamophobia in the aftermath 9/11 attacks forced many Muslims to hide their religious identity from officials. Therefore, it is possible that the number of Muslims is much higher than the official 5% figure, especially if we are to take into consideration the fact that 7% of the population refused to provide any information regarding their religious beliefs during the last census carried out in 2011. How many of these 7% were Muslims is hard to tell, but it is possible that this number is considerable since people tried to hide their religious beliefs out of fear of discrimination.
Additionally, the ever growing number of conflicts in Middle Eastern countries is forcing Muslims to seek refugee in Europe, and the UK has been a desired destination among them for some time now. The massive Muslim community that is living in this country is making it even more attractive for potential migrants since they are aware that they have a chance to meet their relatives or friends there, or at least move into a sympathetic community.
This trend is accelerated even further by an ever growing number of British citizens who are converting to Islam. According to some reports, hundreds or even thousands of British citizens are converting to Islam each month, which makes the ever increasing number of Muslims in the UK even larger. This is due to a number of reasons, including the disappointment of many young people with Christianity. It is not surprising that as the number of Muslims in the UK is increasing, the number of Christian is decreasing.
Today the entire landscape of Britain is changing rapidly: there’s new mosques, Islamic schools, Muslim sharia courts and Muslim companies that have all now become an integral part of the British community. The organization Muslims Against Crusade decided to announce back in 2011 that the British cities of Bradford and Dewsbury in Yorkshire, along with a massive residential area of Tower Hamlets in east London are going to become the first enclaves to proclaim the Caliphate on British soil, reported the Daily Mail.
Against this background in recent years British human rights organizations have started to report a significant increase in Islamophobic moods in the UK. The Guardian would note that the number of anti-Muslim attacks in the UK nearly quadrupled after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. In January of this year, Dazed reported about 115 attacks against Muslims recorded in just one week, including an attack on a mosque in east London.
According to the research carried out by the institute of public opinion, YouGov, which was requested by the Islamic Relief Organization, UK citizens tend to associate Islam with terrorism. The researchers have also registered an increase in the number of those discontented with refugees. A total 42% of respondents said that the UK should not accept those fleeing war or persecution. 47% of citizens said that religious beliefs of refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries is a determining factor in their attitudes towards them.
Against this background one can only be in awe when reading the words of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who told the Independent that “Many millions of Muslims ‘fundamentally incompatible with the modern world.”
The fact that leading government structures in the UK, including law enforcement agencies, are riddled with racism has been manifested in the report by the Institute of Race Relations. British policemen have repeatedly stained themselves with racist comments in social media, says the Sunday Telegraph.
Another study carried out in the UK showed distorted media coverage of the life Muslims lead, which only accelerates the rise of Islamophobia across the country. It has manifested itself in recent accusations against the British version of The Sun, which intentionally fabricated the results of the opinion poll in order to present every fifth Muslim as a supporter of ISIS.
Under these circumstances, one can hardly expect a quiet life in the UK, where Islamophobia intentionally aggravated by the national media and local authorities meets waves of refugees caused by the military adventures of “Western allies” in various Muslim countries (namely Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Syria), tearing British society apart.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.