Islam in the United Kingdom
|Islam by country|
Islam has been present in the United Kingdom since its formation in 1707. Today it is the second largest religion in the country with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 suggesting that by 2011 the total Muslim population had reached 2.7 million, 4.8% of the total population, making it the most practiced religion in the UK. The vast majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom live in England and Wales: of 1,591,000 Muslims recorded at the 2001 Census, 1,536,015 were living in England and Wales, where they formed 3% of the population in 2001; 42,557 were living in Scotland, forming 0.84% of the population; and 1,943 were living in Northern Ireland. In 2011 it was reported that the United Kingdom had around 100,000 converts to Islam, 40,000 more than in 2001; 66% of them were women. There were an estimated 5,200 conversions in 2011. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the UK: between 2001 and 2009 the Muslim population increased almost 10 times faster than the non-Muslim population.
- 1 History
- 2 Demography and ethnic background
- 3 Denominations
- 4 Associations
- 5 Position in society
- 6 Politics
- 7 Media
- 8 Identity
- 9 Discrimination
- 10 Terrorism
- 11 Notable Mosques
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
By the time of Union with Scotland in 1707, only small numbers of Muslims were living in Great Britain. The first large group of Muslims to arrive, in the 18th century, were lascars (sailors) recruited from the Indian subcontinent (largely from the Bengal region) to work for the British East India Company, most of whom settled down and took local wives. Due to the majority being lascars, the earliest Muslim communities were found in port towns. Naval cooks also came, many of them from the Sylhet Division of what is now Bangladesh. One of the most famous early Bengali Muslim immigrants to England was Sake Dean Mahomet, a captain of the British East India Company who in 1810 founded London's first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom.
2 Glynrhondda Street in Cathays, Cardiff, used first by Yemeni sailors, was registered as a mosque in 1860, and is still used as a mosque today. The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking was the first purpose built mosque, built in 1889. In the same year Abdullah Quilliam installed a mosque in a terrace in Liverpool. London, the country's capital saw its first mosque, The Fazl Mosque in 1924. It is commonly referred to as the London mosque. The growing number of Muslims has resulted in the establishment of more than 1,500 mosques as of 2007[update]. The majority of mosques are Sunni; in 2010, the affiliation of the mosques was, 44.6% Deobandi, 28.2% Barelvi and other Sufi, 5.8% Salafi, 2.8% Maudoodi-inspired; of the remainder many were part of other Sunni traditions or unaffiliated, while 4.2% were Shi'a (4%). The majority of mosque managers are of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, with many Gujarati, and fewer Arab, Turkish and Somali managed entities.
Demography and ethnic background
|Census Year||Number of Muslims '000||Population of England and Wales '000||Muslim (% of Total population)||Registered Mosques||Muslims per mosque|
|Number of Muslims||Muslims as % of ethnic group||Ethnic group as % of Muslims|
|White & Black Caribbean||1,385||0.6||0.1|
|White & Black African||10,523||13.3||0.7|
|White & Asian||30,397||16.1||2.0|
|Asian or Asian British||1,139,065||50.1||73.7|
|Black or Black British||106,345||9.3||6.9|
|Other Ethnic Group||56,429||25.7||3.7|
The settlements with large number of Muslims are Bradford, Luton, Blackburn, Birmingham, London and Dewsbury. There are also high numbers in High Wycombe, Slough, Leicester, Derby, Manchester, Liverpool and the mill towns of Northern England. There are also relatively large concentrations in the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The top 20 local authorities with the highest percent of Muslims in 2011 were:
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets 34.5% 87,696
- London Borough of Newham 32.0% 98,456
- Blackburn with Darwen 27.4% 38,817
- City of Bradford 24.7% 129,041
- Luton 24.6% 49,991
- London Borough of Redbridge 23.3% 64,999
- Slough 23.3% 32,655
- London Borough of Waltham Forest 21.9% 56,541
- Birmingham 21.8% 234,411
- Leicester 18.6% 61,440
- London Borough of Brent 18.6% 58,036
- City of Westminster 18.3% 40,073
- Metropolitan Borough of Oldham 17.7% 39,879
- Pendle 17.4% 15,579
- London Borough of Enfield 16.7% 52,141
- Manchester 15.8% 79,496
- London Borough of Ealing 15.7% 53,198
- Kirklees 14.5% 61,280
- London Borough of Haringey 14.2% 36,130
- London Borough of Hackney 14.1% 34,727
Most large cities have one area that is a majority Muslim even if the rest of the city has a fairly small Muslim population; see, for example, Harehills in Leeds. In addition, it is possible to find small areas that are almost entirely Muslim: for example, Savile Town in Dewsbury.
Some 38% of England's Muslims live in London, where 1,012,823 identified as Muslim in 2011 representing 12.4% of London's population of 8,173,941.
The single largest group of Muslims in the United Kingdom are of Pakistani descent. Pakistanis from Mirpur District were one of the first South Asian Muslim communities to permanently settle in the United Kingdom, arriving in Birmingham and Bradford in the late 1930s. Immigration from Mirpur grew from the late 1950s, accompanied by immigration from other parts of Pakistan especially from Punjab which included cities like Sialkot, Jhelum, Gujar Khan and Gujrat and also from the north-west Punjab including the chhachhi pathans from Attock District, and some from villages of Ghazi, Nowshera and Peshwar. There is also a fairly large Pakistani community from Kenya and Uganda found in London. People of Pakistani extraction are particularly notable in West Midlands (Birmingham), West Yorkshire (Bradford), London (Waltham Forest, Newham), Lancashire/Greater Manchester, and several industrial towns like Luton, Slough, High Wycombe and Oxford.
People of Bangladeshi descent are one of the largest Muslim communities (after Pakistanis), 16.8% of Muslims in England and Wales are of Bangladeshi descent, one of the ethnic groups in the UK with the largest proportion of people following a single religion, being 92% Muslim.
The majority of these Muslims come from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh, mainly concentrated in London (Tower Hamlets and Newham), Luton, Birmingham and Oldham. The Bangladeshi Muslim community in London forms 24% of the Muslim population, larger than any other ethnic group.
Initial limited mosque availability meant that prayers were conducted in small rooms of council flats until the 1980s when more and larger facilities became available. Some synagogues and community buildings were turned into mosques and existing mosques began to expand their buildings. This process has continued down to the present day with the East London Mosque recently expanding into a large former car park where the London Muslim Centre is now used for prayers, recreational facilities and housing. Most people regard themselves as part of the ummah, and their identity is based on their religion rather than their ethnic group. Cultural aspects of a 'Bengali Islam' are seen as superstition and as un-Islamic. The identity is far stronger in comparison to the native land. Younger Bangladeshis are more involved in Islamist activities and movement groups, whereas the older generation practise with Islamic rituals mixed with the Bengali culture. Many Bangladeshi women wear the burqa and many young women or girls also wear the headscarf.
There are groups which are active throughout Bangladeshi communities such as The Young Muslim Organization. It is connected to the Islamic Forum Europe, associated with the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre – all of which have connections with the Bangladesh Islamic party, the Jamaat-e-Islami (linked with some community mosques, which also linked with the Dawat-e-Islami). Other groups also attract a few people, the Hizb ut-Tahrir – which calls for the Khilafah (caliphate) and influences by publishing annual magazines, and lectures through mainly political concepts, and the other which is a movement within Sunni Islam is the Salafi – who view the teachings of the first generations as the correct one, and appeals to younger Muslims as a way to differentiate themselves towards their elders. Other large groups include another Sunni movement, the Barelwi – mainly of a Fultoli movement (led by Abdul Latif Chowdhury in Bangladesh), and the Tablighi Jamaat – which is a missionary and revival movement, and avoids political attention. All these groups work to stimulate Islamic identity among local Bengalis or Muslims and particularly focus on the younger members of the communities.
8% of Muslims in the UK are of Indian descent, especially those who are from Gujarat, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Gujarati Muslims from Surat and Bharuch districts in India started to arrive from the 1930s, settling in the towns of Dewsbury and Batley in Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire. There are large numbers of Gujarati Muslims in Dewsbury, Blackburn (inc. Darwen), Bolton, Preston, Nuneaton, Gloucester and London (Newham, Waltham Forest and Hackney). Immigration of Muslims into UK, was primarily started off by Indians during the colonial rule.
The United Kingdom, with 43,532 Somalia-born residents in 2001, and an estimated 101,000 in 2008, is home to the largest Somali community in Europe. A 2009 estimate by Somali community organisations puts the Somali population figure at 90,000 residents. Although most Somalis in the UK are recent arrivals, the first Somali immigrants were seamen and traders who arrived and settled in port cities in the late 19th century. Established Somali communities are found in Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and London, and newer ones have formed in Leicester, Manchester and Sheffield. It has been estimated that between 7,000 to 9,000 Somalis live in Liverpool.
Turks first began to emigrate in large numbers from the island of Cyprus for work and then again when Turkish Cypriots were forced to leave their homes during the Cyprus conflict. Turks then began to come from Turkey for economic reasons. Recently, smaller groups of Turks have begun to immigrate to the United Kingdom from other European countries. As of 2011, there is a total of about 500,000 people of Turkish origin in the UK, made up of approximately 150,000 Turkish nationals and about 300,000 Turkish Cypriots. Furthermore, in recent years, there has been a growing number of ethnic Turks with Bulgarian, German, Greek, Macedonian, and Romanian citizenship who have also migrated to the United Kingdom. The majority live in London.
The 2001 census stated that there were 179,733 Muslims who described themselves as 'white' in the 2001 census. 65% of white Muslims described themselves as "other white", and would likely have originated from locations such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Adyghe, Chechnya, Albania, Turkey and Macedonia. The remainder of white Muslims identified themselves as White British and White Irish.
There are also a number of Muslim immigrants in England that arrived from Nigeria. Nigerian Muslims in the UK are represented by several community organizations, including the Nigeria Muslim forum, which is affiliated with the Council of Nigerian Muslim Organisations in UK and Ireland (CNMO) and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
Although data is scarce, findings indicate Maghrebis make up a substantial community in Europe and the United Kingdom. Britain has long ties with Maghrebis, through contact with the Moors. Nevertheless, Britain has a far lower count of Maghrebis in comparison to France, The Netherlands and Spain, where the majority of Muslims are Maghrebi.
The headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are currently in London. It established itself here in 1912. Ahmadis are especially common in Morden. Alton, Hampshire acts as Annual International Conventions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Other mosques include the Jamia Ahmadiyya and Baitul Ikram Mosque in Leicester.
Shia mosques are usually Twelvers but also cater for Zaydis and Ismailis; they usually include facilities for women. There are 400,000 Shias in Britain from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and elsewhere. Various Shia mosques include the Husseini Islamic Centre in Stanmore, Harrow which acts as one of the main Shia Muslim mosques in Britain. Others include Al Masjid ul Husseini in Northolt, Ealing, and Imam Khoei Islamic Centre in Queens Park, Brent.
The Association of British Muslims is the oldest organisation of British Muslims, created in 1889 as the English Islamic Association by Abdullah Quillam.  United Kingdom-wide Islamic organisations include the British Muslim Forum, the Muslim Association of Britain. the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, the Islamic Society of Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain, the United Kingdom Islamic Mission (UKIM), the Sunni Dawat-e-Islami, the World Islamic Mission, the Sufi Muslim Council, the Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board, Minhaj-ul-Quran UK, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain and the Muslim Educational Trust.
Position in society
According to analysis based on the 2001 census, Muslims in the United Kingdom face poor standards of housing, poorer levels of education and are more vulnerable to long-term illness, and that Muslims in the UK had the highest rate of unemployment, the poorest health, the most disability and fewest educational qualifications among religious groups. The figures were, to some extent, explained by the fact that Muslims were the least well-established group, having the youngest age profile.
Conversely, there are estimated to be around 10,000 British Muslim millionaires. There is a growing substantial British Muslim business community, led by multi-millionaires such as Sir Anwar Pervez.
Muslims have on average the least qualifications in the United Kingdom and are the least likely to have a university degree. However, approximately 53% of British Muslim youth choose to attend university. This is higher than the figure for Christians (45%) and Atheists (32%), but lower than the figure of Hindus and Sikhs, who score 77% and 63% respectively. Approximately one-third of Muslims have no qualifications, the highest of any religious group, whilst approximately a quarter of Christians and Sikhs have no qualifications.
There are around 140 Muslim faith schools in the UK, twelve of them being state-funded. These schools regularly outperform those of other faiths. For example, in 2008, 86.5% of pupils attending Muslim schools achieved five GCSEs, compared to a figure of 72.8% of Roman Catholic schools and 64.5% of Secular schools.
Muslims are playing an increasingly prominent role in political life. There are currently eight Muslim MPs and twelve Muslim Peers (there have historically been about fourteen, starting with Lord Stanley, a peer that lived in the 19th century). The majority of British Muslims vote for the Labour Party, however there are some high profile Conservative Muslims, including Minister for Faith and Communities and former Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid, described by The Guardian as a 'rising star' in the Tory party. The Guardian stated that "The treasury minister is highly regarded on the right and would be the Tories' first Muslim leader." Salma Yaqoob is the former leader of the left wing Respect Party
British Muslims are well represented in various media positions across different organisations. Notable examples include Mehdi Hasan, the political editor of the UK version of The Huffington Post and the presenter of Al Jazeera English shows The Café and Head to Head, Mishal Husain, a British news presenter for the BBC, currently appearing on BBC World News and BBC Weekend News, Rageh Omaar, special correspondent with ITV and formerly Senior Foreign Correspondent with the BBC and a reporter/presenter for Al Jazeera English, and Faisal Islam, economics editor and correspondent for Channel 4 News'.'
According to one survey from 2006, around 81% of Muslims think of themselves as Muslim first. Muslims living in Muslim-majority countries also tend to think of themselves as Muslim first rather than identifying with nationalism (for example 87% of Pakistanis identify themselves as Muslim first rather than Pakistani). However around 83% of Muslims are proud to be a British citizen, compared to 79% of the general public, 77% of Muslims strongly identify with Britain while only 50% of the wider population do, 86.4% of Muslims feel they belong in Britain, slightly more than the 85.9% of Christians, 82% of Muslims want to live in diverse and mixed neighbourhoods compared to 63% of non-Muslim Britons. In polls taken across Europe 2006, British Muslims hold the most negative view of westerners out of all Muslims in Europe, whilst overall in Britain 63% of British hold the most favourable view of Muslims out of all the European countries (down from 67% the year before).
On religious issues a poll reported that 36% of 16-24 year olds believe if a Muslim converts to another religion they should be punished by death, compared to 19% of 55+ year old Muslims. A poll reported that 59% of Muslims would prefer to live under British law, compared to 28% who would prefer to live under sharia law. One poll reported that 61% think homosexuality is wrong and should be illegal. This appeared to be borne out by a Gallup poll in 2009 of 500 British Muslims, none of whom believed that homosexuality was morally acceptable. Such polls suggest that British Muslims have strongly conservative views on issues relating to extra-marital and/or homosexual sexual acts compared with their European Muslim counterparts - who are markedly more liberal. However, the Gallup Poll appeared to be contradicted by a poll conducted by Demos in 2011 which reports that a greater proportion of Muslims (47% - slightly higher than the 46.5% of Christians who agreed with the statement) than other religions agreed with the statement "I am proud of how Britain treats gay people", with less than 11% disagreeing. On 18 May 2013, just as the bill to legalize same-sex marriages was being prepared to pass into law, over 400 leading Muslims including head teachers and senior representatives of mosques across the country, published an open letter opposing the bill on the grounds that "Muslim parents will be robbed of their right to raise their children according to their beliefs, as gay relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children".
British Muslims appear to be significantly more tolerant than the rest of the UK population when it comes to accepting other religions (around 97% do not feel other religions are a threat to the British Muslim way of life). However, another poll revealed that 28% of British Muslims hoped that Britain would one day become a fundamentalist Islamic state, in the belief that society is "immoral".
There have been cases of threats, one alleged fatal attack, and non-fatal attacks on Muslims and on Muslim targets, including attacks on Muslim graves and mosques. In January 2010, a report from the University of Exeter's European Muslim Research Centre noted that the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has increased, ranging from "death threats and murder to persistent low-level assaults, such as spitting and name-calling," for which the media and politicians have been blamed with fueling anti-Muslim hatred. However, Met Police figures showed an 8.5 per cent fall in anti-Muslim crimes between 2009 and 2012, with a spike in 2013 due to the Death of Lee Rigby.
The British media has been criticised for propagating negative stereotypes of Muslims and fueling anti-Muslim prejudice. In 2006, British cabinet ministers were criticised for helping to "unleash a public anti-Muslim backlash" by blaming the Muslim community over issues of integration despite a study commissioned by the Home Office on white and Asian-Muslim youths demonstrating otherwise: that Asian-Muslim youths "are in fact the most tolerant of all" and that white British youths "have far more intolerant attitudes," concluding that intolerance from the white British community was a greater "barrier to integration." Another survey by Gallup in 2009 also found that the Muslim community feels more patriotic about Britain than the general British population, while another survey found that Muslims assert that they support the role of Christianity in British life more so than Christians themselves. In January 2010, the British Social Attitudes Survey found that the general British public "is far more likely to hold negative views of Muslims than of any other religious group," with "just one in four" feeling "positively about Islam," and a "majority of the country would be concerned if a mosque was built in their area, while only 15 per cent expressed similar qualms about the opening of a church." The "scapegoating" of Muslims by the media and politicians in the 21st century has been compared in the media to the rise of antisemitism in the early 20th century.
The emergence of the English Defence League has resulted in demonstrations in British cities with large Muslim populations. The EDL is a far-right, anti-Muslim street protest movement which opposes what it considers to be a spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in the United Kingdom. The EDL has been described by The Jewish Chronicle as Islamophobic. The group has faced confrontations with various groups, including supporters of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Anonymous.
Alleged forced conversions
In 2007 a Sikh girl's family claimed that she had been forcibly converted to Islam, and they received a police guard after being attacked by an armed gang. In response to these news stories, an open letter to Sir Ian Blair, signed by ten Hindu academics, argued that claims that Hindu and Sikh girls were being forcefully converted were "part of an arsenal of myths propagated by right-wing Hindu supremacist organisations in India". The Muslim Council of Britain issued a press release pointing out there is a lack of evidence of any forced conversions and suggested it is an underhand attempt to smear the British Muslim population. Sheikh Musa Admani, an imam, said Islamic extremist groups may be evading university bans on groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun 
In a 2008 journal for the University of Leeds, for the Centre for Ethnicity & Racism Studies (as well as the School of Sociology and Social Policy; University of Leeds), Katy Sian conducted an investigation into the Sikh community in the UK where the idea of "trapped love" allegedly committed by University-going-Muslim males is widespread. The report was done to see whether the phenomenon and allegations of "forced" conversions and "trapped love" was true; Sian's report concluded most of the claimed evidence alleged by the Sikh community against young Muslims came from "a friend from a friend" within Sikh families who detailed many exaggerated stories about the "Muslim folk devil" on campus, at Universities. Sian also noted strong similarities to the spread of the notion of "trapped love" allegedly conducted by the Jewish community in the UK in the 1930s and 1940s, by Christians, where it has since been labelled as an antisemitic conspiracy theory. The report concluded by saying most of evidence simply does not exist and is part of a wider problem of Islamophobia amongst Sikhs.
Social disturbance began in the Muslim community in England in 1988 with the publication of the satirical novel The Satanic Verses in London. The book was condemned with a fatwa the following year.
The 7 July 2005 London bombings were a series of coordinated bomb blasts that hit London's public transport system during the morning rush hour, killing 52 people and also the four bombers. The latter were British Muslims, three of Pakistani and one of Jamaican heritage. They were apparently motivated by Britain's involvement in the Iraq War and other conflicts.
0n 23 July Afifi al-Akiti, a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, wrote a fatwa, Defending the Transgressed, against the killing of civilians by suicide bombers in response to the London bombings.
Glasgow International Airport Attack
The 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack was a terrorist attack which occurred on Saturday 30 June 2007, at 15:11 BST, when a dark green Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane canisters was driven into the glass doors of the Glasgow International Airport terminal and set ablaze. It was the first terrorist attack to take place in Scotland since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. The attack occurred three days after the appointment of Glasgow-born Scottish MP Gordon Brown as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but Downing Street dismissed suggestions of a connection, although a close link was quickly established to the foiled attack on London the previous day.
Police identified the two men as Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim engineer of Iraqi descent working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and Kafeel Ahmed, also known as Khalid Ahmed, the driver, who was treated for severe burns at the same hospital. The newspaper, The Australian, alleges that a suicide note indicated that the two had intended to die in the attack. Ahmed did eventually die from his injuries, on 2 August. Bilal Abdullah was later found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Woolwich Soldier Attack
On the afternoon of 22 May 2013, a British Army soldier, Drummer (Private) Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attacked and killed by two men near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, in what has been described as an Islamic terrorist attack.
Rigby was off duty and walking along Wellington Street when he was attacked. Two men ran him down with a car, then used knives and a cleaver to stab and hack him to death. The men dragged Rigby's body into the road. The men remained at the scene until police arrived. They told passers-by that they had killed a soldier to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British military. Unarmed police arrived at the scene nine minutes after an emergency call was received and set up a cordon. Armed police officers arrived five minutes later. The assailants, armed with a gun and cleaver, charged at the police, who fired shots that wounded them both. They were apprehended and taken to separate hospitals. Both are British of Nigerian descent who were raised as Christians and converted to Islam.
- Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking was the first purpose built mosque in Britain
- Baitul Futuh mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslims (AMJ)
- Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham - One of the most influential Salafi mosques in the UK
- Markazi mosque in Dewsbury
- Manchester Central Mosque
- Al-Rahma mosque in Liverpool
- Birmingham Central Mosque
- East London Mosque
- Leeds Grand Mosque
- Finsbury Park Mosque in London
- Masjide Tauheedul in Dewsbury
- Abbey Mills Mosque
- Medina Mosque in Sheffield
- Glasgow Central Mosque
The East London Mosque organises an annual programme to attract people to its services which include ICT training, English classes, a Junior Muslim Circle, Saturday Halaqa (Islamic talks) and Madrasahs. According to the mosque, involvement in its activities has increased and it notes that: the five daily prayers have increased. Especially during Friday Jummah prayers, where it was difficult to accommodate the increasing number of people. During Ramadan, the prayer facilities attracted between 4,000 to 5,000 people every day. Much of these works by the people, show Islamic identity among the Muslims is increasingly rising due to many Islamic groups and facilities available throughout the communities in the UK.
The Baitul Futuh Mosque organises several events to serve Muslims and the wider community. Other than holding regular prayers, its services to the wider community include annual Peace Conferences, School tours and community events such as hosting the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions? and the 'Merton Youth Partnership Annual Conference.' The Baitul Futuh Mosque has also been acting as the centre for the 'Loyalty, Freedom and Peace Campaign' in order for the west to recognize Islam as a peaceful religion and to improve the Integration of Muslims and Non-Muslims.
- List of British Muslims
- Protestantism and Islam
- Islam in Northern Ireland
- Islam in Scotland
- Islam in Wales
- Islam by country
- Muslims in Western Europe
- Religion in England
- The Muslim Weekly
- Islam in London
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- Dear Ian Blair,
- As academics teaching at British universities, we are disturbed by your recent announcement reported in the Daily Mail (22 February), Metro (23 February) and elsewhere, that the police and universities are working together to target extremist Muslims who force vulnerable teenage Hindu and Sikh girls to convert to Islam. Your statements appear to have been made on the basis of claims by the Hindu Forum of Britain who have not presented any evidence that such forced conversions are taking place. In fact the notion of forced conversions of young Hindu women to Islam is part of an arsenal of myths propagated by right-wing Hindu supremacist organisations in India and used to incite violence against minorities. For example, inflammatory leaflets referring to such conversions were in circulation before the massacres of the Muslim minority in Gujarat exactly five years ago which left approximately 2,000 dead and over 200,000 displaced.
- In our view, it is highly irresponsible to treat such allegations at face value or as representative of the views of Hindus in general. While we would condemn any type of pressure on young women to conform to religious beliefs or practices (whether of their own community or another) we can only see statements such as yours as contributing to the further stigmatising of the Muslim community as a whole and as a pretext for further assaults on civil liberties in Britain."
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