Islam in the United Kingdom
|Islam by country|
Islam is the second largest religion with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 giving the UK Muslim population in 2011 as ~2,706,066, ~4.5% of the total population. The vast majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom live in England: 2,660,116 (5.02% of the population). 76,737 Muslims live in Scotland (1.45%), 45,950 in Wales (1.50%), and 3,832 in Northern Ireland (0.21%). 
In 2011 it was reported that the United Kingdom had around 100,000 converts to Islam, of which 66% were women. There were an estimated 5,200 conversions to Islam in 2011. Islam is the second fastest growing religious confession in the UK after irreligion and its adherents have the lowest average age out of all the major religious groups. Between 2001 and 2009 the Muslim population increased almost 10 times faster than the non-Muslim population. The majority of Muslims in United Kingdom belong to the Sunni denomination. The largest groups of British Muslims are Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
- 1 History
- 2 Demography and ethnic background
- 3 Denominations
- 4 Associations
- 5 Position in society
- 6 Islamic scholar and leaders
- 7 Politics
- 8 Media
- 9 Identity
- 10 Sharia
- 11 Discrimination
- 12 Terrorism
- 13 Notable Mosques
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 External links
The first group of Muslims to migrate to the UK in significant numbers, 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. 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 British India (now in Bangladesh). One of the most famous early Asian Muslim immigrants to England was the Bengali Sake Dean Mahomet, a captain of the British East India Company who in 1810 founded London's first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostanee Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom.
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, which became the Liverpool Muslim Institute. The first mosque in London was the Fazl Mosque established in 1924, commonly called the London mosque. The growing number of Muslims resulted in the establishment of more than 1,500 mosques by 2007.
The publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses in 1988 caused major controversy. Muslims in Britain condemned the book for blasphemy. On 2 December 1988 the book was publicly burned at a demonstration in Bolton attended by 7,000 Muslims, followed by a similar demonstration and book-burning in Bradford on 14 January 1989.
Demography and ethnic background
The Muslim population of England and Wales has grown consistently since the 1950s. Sophie Gilliat-Ray attributes the recent growth to "recent immigration, the growing birth rate, some conversion to Islam, and perhaps also an increased willingness to self-identify as "Muslim" on account of the "war on terror"".
|Census Year||Number of Muslims||Population of England and Wales||Muslim (% of population)||Registered Mosques||Muslims per mosque|
|Number of Muslims||Muslims as % of ethnic group||Ethnic group as % of Muslims|
|White & Black Caribbean||5,384||1.3||0.2|
|White & Black African||15,681||9.5||0.6|
|White & Asian||49,689||14.5||1.8|
|Black or Black British||272,015||14.6||10.1|
|Other Ethnic Group||112,094||33.7||4.1|
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 in England and Wales 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
- Nottingham 10.1% 21,353 
Several 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.
Aside from North African Arabs, often referred to as Maghrebis (mentioned below), people of Arab origin in Britain are the descendants of Arab immigrants to Britain from a variety of Arab states, including Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Most British Arabs are Sunni Muslim, although some – such as those of southern Iraqi and southern Lebanese origin – are Shi'ite. A smaller number belong to one of the Eastern Christian denominations, such as Coptic Orthodox Egyptians and Maronite or Syrian Orthodox Arabs from the Levant. The main Arab Muslim communities in the UK live in the Greater London area, with smaller numbers living in Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham. There are also sizable and very long-established communities of Muslim Yemenis in the United Kingdom in among other places Cardiff and the South Shields area near Newcastle.
People of Bangladeshi descent are the second largest Muslim community (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 South Asian women wear the burqa and many young women or girls 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. 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.
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, Adygea, Chechnya, Albania, Turkey, Bulgaria, the region of East Macedonia and Thrace in Northern Greece, and the Republic of Macedonia.[original research?] The remainder of white Muslims are converts and mostly identified themselves as White British and White Irish.
Islam is the third-largest religious group of British Indian people, after Hinduism and Sikhism. 8% of UK Muslims are of Indian descent, principally those whose origins are in Gujarat, West Bengal, Telengana and Kerala. Gujarati Muslims from the Surat and Bharuch districts started to arrive from the 1930s when India was under British colonial rule, settling in the towns of Dewsbury and Batley in Yorkshire and in parts of Lancashire.
North African both Berbers & Arabs from the Maghreb (English: western) Although data is scarce, Maghrebis make up a substantial community in Europe and the United Kingdom. Britain has far fewer of Maghrebis than France, The Netherlands or Spain, where the majority of Muslims are Maghrebi.
A 2009 government paper estimated the Nigerian Muslim community as 12,000 to 14,000. The community is concentrated in London.
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, East Midlands/Nottingham and several industrial towns like Luton, Slough, High Wycombe and Oxford.
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. In 2011, there was 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 German, or Dutch citizenship immigrating to Britain. Turkish-speaking Muslims have also come to Britain from parts of the Balkans where they make up a large, indigenous ethnic and religious minority dating to the period of Ottoman rule, particularly Bulgaria, the province of East Macedonia and Thrace in Northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and Romania. Although some of these Balkan Turks, like the Pomaks of southern Bulgaria and Northern Greece, are actually the descendants of Ottoman-era converts to Islam, and are therefore sometimes defined as (e.g) Bulgarian Muslims and Greek Muslims, the vast majority are the descendants of Turkish settlers dating to the early Ottoman period. Even many of those of non-Turkish origin have adopted the Turkish language and identity, through a combination of educational links with Turkey, intermarriage with Turkish Muslims, and assimilation into mainstream Turkish culture. The majority of Turks live in the greater London area.
There are 2.3 million Sunnis in the UK.
The majority of British mosques are Sunni. Ahle Sunnat Barelvis, Deobandi and Wahabi are three major groups in UK Muslims. Sufi oriented Barelvis make up the second most dominant group after anti Sufi groups such as Deobandi and Wahabis. Like fellow Wahabis in the Middle East, the Deobandis is sometimes violent, opposition to the Sufi practices. 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.
Shia mosques are usually Twelvers but also cater for Zaydis and the 50,000-strong Ismaili community; 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 Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) established itself in the UK in 1912 and is thus the longest standing Muslim community in the UK. The UK and worldwide headquarters of the AMC are currently situated on the grounds of 'The London Mosque' (Masjid Fazl), London's first Mosque (1926), in the Southfields area of South-West London. The London Mosque has been home to the worldwide head and Caliph of the AMC since 1984. The current Caliph of the AMC is Hazrat Khalifatul Masih al-Khamis (Lit. His Holiness the Fifth Successor to the Messiah), Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
The AMC also has a base at the Morden Mosque (Baitul Futuh), Western Europe's largest Mosque. The Morden Mosque is also the headquarters of the community's Muslim satellite television channel, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA). MTA was established in 1996 and was the first Muslim satellite television channel in the world, currently broadcasting to a worldwide audience of up to 80 million people. The AMC has more than 40 Mosques and Mission Houses spread across the UK with notable Mosques in East London, South London, Sussex, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Bradford, Hartlepool, and Glasgow. Oakland Farm (Hadeeqatul Mahdi), a 200-acre working farm in Alton, Hampshire, acts as the venue for the Annual International Convention (Jalsa Salana) of the AMC. The Jalsa Salana is the largest and longest standing annual Muslim convention in the UK, established in 1966 and attracting some 35,000 attendees from 97 countries.
The AMC also has the largest Muslim youth organisation, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya) in the UK (membership of 7,500) and the largest Muslim women's organisation, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Assciation (Lajna Imaila), in the UK (membership of 10,000). The AMC runs an Institute of Religions and Languages (Jamia Ahmadiyya) that trains about 25 British Imams each year. The Institute, known as Jamia Ahmadiyya, was established in 1995 and is situated in Haselmere. Its students must complete seven years of training before they can qualify as Imams.
- Association of British Muslims, the oldest organisation of British Muslims, created in 1889 as the English Islamic Association by Abdullah Quilliam.
- Association of Muslim Lawyers
- British Muslim Forum
- Civil Service Islamic Society
- Dawatul Islam
- Islamic Forum of Europe
- Islamic Party of Britain
- Islamic Society of Britain
- Minhaj-ul-Quran UK
- Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board
- Muslim Association of Britain
- Muslim Council of Britain
- Muslim Educational Trust
- Muslim Parliament of Great Britain
- Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK
- Muslim Safety Forum
- Sufi Muslim Council
- The Young Muslims UK
- UK Islamic Mission
- World Islamic Mission
- Young Muslim Organisation
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.
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. However, approximately 53% of British Muslim youth choose to attend university. This is higher than the figure for Christians (45%) and the non-religious (32%).
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.
Islamic scholar and leaders
Several notable Muslim religious leaders and scholars are based in the UK, including:
- Allama Qamaruzzaman Azmi, Leader of World Islamic Mission
- Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada of Muslim Charity and Jamia Al-Karam
- Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi of Al-Mustafa Centre
- Waqar Azmi OBE, EU Ambassador of Intercultural Dialogue
- Muhammad Arshad Misbahi Imam of Manchester Central Mosque
- Sheikh Abdul Qayum, Chief Imam of East London Mosque
- Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary of Muslim Aid
- Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq, khateeb of Birmingham Central Mosque
- Dr. Mahmudul Hasan, khateeb of Essex Mosque
- Abdul Rahman Madani' television presenter and Chief Imam of Darul Ummah Mosque
- Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, principal of Hijaz College
- Ajmal Masroor, imam and politician
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 former 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. Sayeeda Warsi, who was the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet, was appointed by David Cameron in 2010 as a minister without portfolio. She was made a senior minister of state in 2012. In August 2014 she resigned over the government's approach to the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict
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'.'
There are several Islamic television channels operating in the UK, including British Muslim TV, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA International), Ummah Channel, and Ahlebait TV.
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 nation states (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- to 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. 61% of respondents agreed with the statement that 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, a poll conducted by Demos in 2011 reported 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 homosexual relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children".
A 2013 survey indicated that immigrants from Muslim countries were perceived as integrating less well into British society than immigrants from other countries were. Another poll revealed that 28% of British Muslims hoped that Britain would one day become an Islamic state.
Although sharia is not part of the British legal system, several British establishment figures have supported its use in areas of dispute resolution in Islamic communities. For example, in February 2008 Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Church of England) lectured at the Royal Courts of Justice on Islam and English Law. In this lecture he spoke of the possibility of using sharia in some circumstances.
[...] it might be possible to think in terms of [...] a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that 'power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents'
Several months later, Lord Phillips, then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales supported the idea that sharia could be reasonably employed as a basis for "mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution", and explained that "It is not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes, for example, and our system already goes a long way towards accommodating the archbishop's suggestion."
In March 2014, The Law Society issued guidance on how to draft sharia-compliant wills for the network of sharia courts which been established to deal with disputes between Muslim families. The guidance was withdrawn later in 2014 following criticism by solicitors and by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.
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.
There has also been discrimination by orthodox Sunni Muslims against Ahmadiyya Muslims. In 2014, on the 125 anniversary of the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Community published an advertisement in the Luton on Sunday. Following a written complaint from Dr Fiaz Hussain, co-ordinator of the Preservation of Finality of Prophethood Forum (PFPF), the paper received a delegation of 'Community Leaders' and shortly afterwards printed an apology disassociating itself from the Ahmadiyya advertisement. Tell MAMA responded by identifying attempts to intimidate or discriminate against Ahmadiyya Muslims "as anti-Muslim in nature".
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 murder of Lee Rigby.
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 article for the Leeds Centre for Ethnicity & Racism Studies 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 can be attributed to Islamophobia amongst Sikhs.
2005 London Bombings
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.
On 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.
Murder of Drummer Lee Rigby
On the afternoon of 22 May 2013, a British Army soldier, Drummer (Private) Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attacked and murdered by two Muslim 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.
The Beatles, dubbed as such by their former and current hostages because of their British accents, are an active Islamic State (IS) terrorist group whose members were nicknamed John, Paul, George, and Ringo by the hostages. They are responsible for beheadings in Iraq and Syria, most notably as shown in the beheading videos of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British humanitarian aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, and American aid worker Peter Kassig. The Beatles are reportedly a cell of 4 (though some sources have only referred to 3 of the individuals) of an estimated 500 British Muslims fighting on behalf of the jihadist Islamic State to impose a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. They have taken hostages, guarded more than a dozen Western hostages of the Islamic State in Western Raqqa, Syria, and beheaded the three hostages.
- Ghamkol Shariff Masjid, Birmingham
- Faizan-e-Madina Mosque, Peterborough
- Manchester Central Mosque
- Madina Mosque (Sheffield)
- Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking
- Green Lane Masjid, Birmingham
- Markazi Mosque, Dewsbury
- Al-Rahma Mosque, Liverpool
- Jamea Masjid, Preston, Lancashire
- Birmingham Central Mosque
- East London Mosque
- Leeds Grand Mosque
- Finsbury Park Mosque, London
- Abbey Mills Mosque, Stratford, London
- Glasgow Central Mosque
- Islam in England
- Islam in Northern Ireland
- Islam in Scotland
- Islam in Wales
- Muslims in Western Europe
- Islam by country
- Islam in London
- Islam in Birmingham
- Religion in England
- Islamism in the United Kingdom
- List of British Muslims
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- 'UK Census: religion by age, ethnicity and country of birth' 16 May 2013, Ami Sedghi, The Guardian
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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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