British Mirpuri community
|Regions with significant populations|
|Regions: West Midlands, Greater London, Yorkshire and The Humber, North West England, Scotland
Metropolitan Areas: Greater London, Birmingham Metro Area, Greater Manchester, Leeds-Bradford, Greater Glasgow
Cities and towns: Batley, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Bradford, Burnley, Bury, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Glasgow, Huddersfield, London, Luton, Manchester, Nelson, Nottingham, Oldham, Peterborough, Preston, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham, Slough, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall
|Mirpur Punjabi, Urdu, Potwari, English (British)|
|Majority Islam (Sunni, Shi'ite, Sufism, Ahmadiyya)
Minority Christianity, Hinduism
|Related ethnic groups|
The British Mirpuri community comprises people in the United Kingdom who originate from the Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. There are 747,000 Mirpuris in the United Kingdom, forming about 70% of the British Pakistani community. The percentage is even higher in northern cities and towns. For example, in Bradford, an industrial town in north-west England, it is estimated that roughly three quarters of the Pakistani population are from Mirpur.
The community speaks the Mirpuri/Pothohari language. The first generation migrant Mirpuris were not highly educated and they had little or no experience of urban living in Pakistan. Migration from Mirpur and its adjacent areas started soon after second world war as the majority of the male population of this area and Pothohar region worked in British armed forces. But the mass migration phenomenon took place after the Mangla Dam project, which was built in the 1960s and eventually flooded the surrounding farmland. Mirpuris in Britain are still in touch with family back home in Azad Kashmir as remittance is sent back to them to help fund farmland and family businesses.
The reasons for the large proportion of Mirpuris in the United Kingdom is historical. Mirpur was considered to be a conservative district in 1960s, and life in its rural villages, was dominated by rigid hierarchies. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Government of Pakistan planned the Mangla Dam, which was to be built in the Mirpur area. They asked several thousand locals to leave the land. At that time, the British needed man-power mainly for their textile factories. Up to 5,000 people from Mirpur (five per cent of the displaced) left for Britain, the displaced Mirpuris being given legal and financial assistance by the British contractor which had built the dam. Many started working in factories, mostly in the so-called "Black Country" and the area of Bradford, England. In some villages, more than half the village population moved to the United Kingdom to settle in the industrial towns. This rural, impoverished district provided cheap, unskilled labour for Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.
Families tend to be close knit and the guiding influence behind everything from marriage to business.
These cultural values have clashed with British ones, which tend to be more free thinking and independent. British Pakistanis live in some of the most segregated areas of Britain, and their children attend the most segregated schools. The British government has made attempts to improve community cohesion by nurturing a sense of shared or collective national identity. One programme designed to encourage greater social mixing includes the busing of students of Pakistani origin to "white schools" in an attempt to bridge the divide between the British Pakistani and white British ethnic groups. Mirpuri community has made significant economic progress over the years. In almost all the major UK cities there is a sizeable Mirpuri business community which owns take aways, restaurants, shops and taxi bases to small and medium sized manufacturing units, legal and financial firms etc. On the other hand, after the economic hardships faced by the first generation Mirpuri immigrants, their third and fourth generations are moving fast in the new fields of science, technology, arts and social sciences with higher number of youth taking admissions in different universities. Mirpuri Kashmiri expatriate community has made notable progress in UK politics and sizeable number of MPs, councillors, lord mayors and deputy mayors are representing the community in different constituencies.
Many Mirpuris have named their businesses after the Pakistani region of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. One of the largest companies incorporating such a name is Kashmir Crown Bakeries which is a food making business based in Bradford. The company is a major local employer and is the largest Asian food manufacturer in Europe. The owner, Mohammed Saleem, claims that combining traditional Pakistani baking methods with vocational British training has given his baking business a multi-million pound turnover.
In 1960s, Mirpur was considered to be a rural and conservative area. Due to the Mirpuri diaspora, the region great economic progress in last three decades and has become one of the most prosperous areas of Pakistan.
Endogamy and kinship
Cousin marriages or marriages within the same tribe and caste system are common in some parts of South Asia, including rural areas of Pakistan. A major motivation is to preserve patrilineal tribal identity. The tribes to which British Mirpuris belong include Awans and Sudhans. As a result, there are some common genealogical origins within these tribes. Some Mirpuri British Pakistanis view cousin marriages as a way of preserving this ancient tribal tradition and maintaining a sense of brotherhood.
A study published in 1988 in the Journal of Medical Genetics, which looked specifically at two hospitals in West Yorkshire, found that the rate of consanguineous marriage was 55 per cent and rising, compared to a worldwide rate of 29 per cent. However, representatives of constituencies where there are high Pakistani populations say that consanguineous marriages amongst British Pakistanis are now decreasing in number, partly because of public health initiatives.
According to the British Home Office, as of 2000, more than half the cases of forced marriage investigated involve families of Pakistani origin, followed by Bangladeshis and Indians. The Home Office estimates that 85 per cent of the victims of forced marriages are women aged 15–24, 90 per cent are Muslim, and 90 per cent are of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage. 60 per cent of forced marriages by Pakistani families are linked to the small Potohari towns of Bhimber and Kotli and the Potohari city of Mirpur.
In 2009, a consultation was undertaken into the effects of providing an individual checkbox for "Kashmiri" people in the UK census. The majority of the community chose to self-identify as Pakistani.
The following ethnic codes are accepted in UK Government Ethnicity profiles:
- Mirpuri Pakistani - AMPK - this category applies to Mirpuris, who are not ethnic "Kashmiris", although Mirpur fell in the old Jammu division of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. People of Mirpur more commonly describe their ethnicity as "Potohari" (meaning "from the plateau").
- Kashmiri Pakistani - AKPA - this category applies to non-Mirpuri people from Azad Jammu & Kashmir. These people are mainly from Poonch and are not ethnic Kashmiris, though Poonch fell in the old Jammu division of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. People from Poonch more commonly describe their ethnicity as "Pahari" (meaning "mountainous"). The Paharis live in the mountains which form a geographical barrier between the Mirpuris/Potoharis and the ethnic Kashmiris.
- Kashmiri Other - ASNL - this category applies to ethnic Kashmiris who originate from the Kashmir Valley (currently administered by India). This is the Kashmir division of the old princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, and lies on the other side (to the north/east) of the mountains inhabited by the Pahari. There is a very small population of these people in the UK and are culturally distinct from the other two categories above.
The Guardian, June 17, 2002, "British Muslims series – A Map of Muslim Britain":
- Muslim population 1.8 million (3% of total British population)
- The Muslim population of London – 1 million (total 7.2 million); Birmingham – 150,000 (1 million) – this includes the world's biggest expatriate Kashmiri population
- Scotland 60,000 (33,000 in Glasgow); Wales 50,000; Northern Ireland 4000
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- Department for Communities and Local Government. "The Pakistani Muslim Community in England". Department for Communities and Local Government. pp. 5–11 (6), 36–41. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
- Instead. "The raise project". Yorkshire Forward. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
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- Kinship and continuity: Pakistani families in Britain. Routledge. 2000. pp. 26–32. ISBN 978-90-5823-076-8. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "The limits to integration", BBC News, 30 November 2006
- Samira Shackle (20 August 2010). "The mosques aren't working in Bradistan". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Anthony Browne (5 May 2004). "We can't run away from it: white flight is here too". The Times. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "The largest Asian Food Manufacturer in Europe". Kashmir Crown Bakeries. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "The History". Kashmir Crown Bakeries. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Shiv Malik. "A community in denial". New Statesman. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- "Birth defects warning sparks row". BBC News. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
- DeVotta, Neil (2003). Understanding Contemporary India. London: Lynne Rienner. pp. 232–237. ISBN 1-55587-958-6.
- Monika Böck and Aparna Rao (2000). Culture, Creation, and Procreation: Concepts of Kinship in South Asian Practice. Berghahn Books. pp. 81–157. ISBN 1-57181-912-6.
... Kalesh kinship is indeed orchestrated through a rigorous system of patrilineal descent defined by lineage endogamy
- Zafar Khan. "Diasporic Communities and Identity Formation". University of Luton. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
- The frequency of consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis, Journal of Medical Genetics 1988;25:186–190
- "Pakistan Faces Genetic Disasters – OhmyNews International". English.ohmynews.com. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Asian News. "Calls for reviews of cousin marriages". Asian News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
- Groups try to break bonds of forced marriage, USA Today, 19 April 2006
- Woman saved from forced marriage in Pakistan by new UK law, The Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2009
- "Cry freedom – Features – TES Connect". Tes.co.uk. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- DEd website