Muslim population almost doubles in the space of a decade

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THE MUSLIM populations of England and Wales almost doubled in the space of a decade, a new report said, adding evidence to the changing make up of British society.

An analysis of 2011 Census data for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) showed the number of Muslims rose by more than a million from 1.5million in 2011 to 2.7m in 2011, with a third below the age of 15.

Yorkshire and the Humber has the fourth highest Muslim population, 326,050 - 6.2 per cent, and three-quarters of the Muslim population was concentrated in the top four areas, London, the West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Almost half, 46 per cent lived in the top 10 per cent most deprived areas.

Dr Abdul Bary Malik, of the Bradford-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, said Yorkshire reflected the national picture, with a “definite increase” in the Muslim population, especially in Bradford, where the population has risen from 80,000 to over 100,000 in recent years.

But while some have thrived, the community does face its problems, he said.

“Some have done very well. There are more than two dozen Muslim millionaires in Bradford,” he said. “But there are lots of challenges - deprivation, education problems, issues with healthcare.

“If you look at the current situation, with radicalisation and high levels of crime and unemployment, these are big challenges both for the authorities and the Muslim community.”

The research showed one in 12 school-age children was Muslim and there had been a significant improvement in Muslim education, with just a quarter not having any qualifications compared with two in five 10 years previously. But just one in five was in full-time employment, compared with one in three of the wider population, with the researchers saying Muslims face a “double penalty ... in entering the labour market - of racial discrimination as well as Islamophobia”.

While more than half were born outside the country, 73 per cent said their national identity was British.

The report, led by Sundas Ali of the University of Oxford, said: “There is need for various stakeholders - Muslim civil society, policy institutes, employers, trade unions and the Department for Work and Pensions - to facilitate conditions and opportunities in the labour market. Muslim civil society needs to have a better appreciation of the social realities.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said the report “helps give us a snapshot of the socio-economic challenges and opportunities now facing Britain’s Muslim communities.”

He said: “What’s not in doubt is that British Muslims can be proud of the contribution they make to our country. Drawing on analysis like this, together, we can help create jobs, drive growth and enable more people to get on - building the stronger economy and fairer society we want for Britain’s future.”

Dr Malik said many Muslims had embraced the UK and were passionate about living in an integrated community.

“If we start with the teachings of Islam, you have to be loyal to the country where you live, and this is what we are seeing. If you look at the numbers of people being buried in their local cemetery, rather than abroad, they are increasing. This is their country, and they want to be loyal to it,” Dr Malik added.