By: Aisha Gani
Source: The Guardian
The Muslim population of England and Wales is growing faster than the overall population, with a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people, according to an analysis of official data.
One in three Muslims is under 15, compared with fewer than one in five overall. There are also fewer elderly Muslims, with 4% aged over 65, compared with 16% of the overall population.
In 2011, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, compared with 1.55 million in 2001. There were also 77,000 Muslims in Scotland and 3,800 in Northern Ireland.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) study of data from the 2011 census found that Muslims are still a small minority of the overall population – one in 20. This contrasts with popular perceptions held by Britons, who overstate the proportion of Muslims in the country by a factor of four, according to a recent survey by Ipsos Mori.
Half the Muslims in England and Wales were born there and almost three-quarters (73%) identify themselves as British. Two-thirds of Muslims are ethnically Asian and 8% are white.
The analysis, which aims to provide a comprehensive picture of Muslim demographics in England and Wales, is the first of its kind. It was made possible because 92% of respondents completed a voluntary question on religion in the 2011 census.
The MCB, which is affiliated with 500 institutions, said: “The report is the first comprehensive and detailed report of its kind looking at Muslims from a data perspective.”
The organisation said that there were a number of issues in the report for government and policymakers to consider.
The report stresses Muslim civil society needs to better appreciate “social realities” and provide good advice on health as well as tackling social issues such as homelessness, higher divorce rates and social inequality.
Responding to the report, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: “I believe that every person, whatever their background and circumstances, should have an equal chance to thrive.
“What’s not in doubt is that British Muslims can be proud of the contribution they make to our country.”
Clegg added: “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.”
The figures show that Muslims make up 20% or more of the electorate in 26 constituencies and live in all local authority areas in England and Wales. “There has been a spreading-out effect and this has accelerated in the past 10 years,” said Sundas Ali, a sociologist at Oxford University.