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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Stats on the Muslims of Britain

Pakistani & Bangladeshi Muslims

If non-Muslims want to understand the nature of Islam and Muslims in the UK, the first thing to say is that the vast majority of Muslims are Sunni and of Pakistani descent. There are also 16.8% of Muslims in England and Wales who are Bangladeshi. 8% of Muslims in the UK are also of Indian, not Pakistani, origin.

To break that down, as of 2010, 44.6% of mosques are Deobandi and 28.2% are Barelvi or others Sufi groups. In addition, 5.8% of mosques are Salafi and 4.2% are Shi'a.

Barelvi Hanafis deem Deobandis and Shi'a to be kaafir. Similarly, Deobandis, and other Muslims, deem the Barelvi to be “shrine-worshipping, the grave-worshiping [and] ignorant”.

To break this down even more: most of these mosques in the UK are Pakistani and Bangladeshi is terms of ethnic/national affiliation. Here again, most Pakistani and Bangladeshi mosques are either Deobandi or Barelvi. So, basically, in order to understand the nature of Islam in England, the best way is to understand the Deobandi and Barelvi forms of Islam, as practiced mainly by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Rather disingenuously, you will often hear the Sufi credentials of Barelvi being stressed by both Muslims; but especially by non-Muslim Islamophiles. The suggestion is that Sufism is some kind of moderate or even pacifist Islam. It most certainly isn't. (No doubt there are strands of Sufism that are.) For example, some Barelvi are involved with terrorist activities. Millions more are attached to Islamist political parties such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP). Very many British Pakistani Muslims have links to the explicitly Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami; including the former leader of Respect, Salma Yaqoob (see image below right). And since these parties are the political expression of Barelvi Islam, what better definition of “Islamism” could there be?
As for both Deobandi and Barelvi, they have often been very confrontations between the two groups. For example, in 2006 in Karachi, a bomb attack was launched on a Barelvi gathering which resulted in 57 deaths. Barelvi also got involved with the Islamic violence by forcibly gaining control of a mosque in Karachi and, in the process, killing worshipers and injuring others.

Consequently, I think it would be wise to expect this kind of thing to start happening in the UK some time in the future.

Islam in the UK

As of 2012, there were eight Muslim MPs and twelve Muslim Peers. And, as many people know, most Muslims vote for the Labour Party.

There are also a number of Islamic television channels in the UK. These include the Islam Channel, the Ummah Channel and Ahlebait TV. The Islam Channel, for example, was reprimanded, by Ofcom, for encouraging domestic violence as well as for being “political biased”. The Islam Channel also features broadcasts by various Trotskyist political activists, such as ex-SWP John Rees (now of the Stop the War Coalition, Counterfire and The People's Assembly - see image right), Yvonne Ridley (now a Muslim) and George Galloway.

As of 2006 (there are more today), there were 140 Islamic schools in the UK. And at that time, twelve of them received funds from the state.

In 2007, there were more than 1,500 mosques in the UK.

Young Muslims in the UK

The fact that the younger generation of Muslims is more extreme (i.e., more fundamentalist and/or Islamist, though less “ethnic”), than the older generations, was show by a poll which said that 36% of 16-to-24-year-olds believe that if a Muslim converts to another religion, then he or she must be killed. This compared to 19% of Muslims in the 55 years and above bracket who think that apostates must be killed. 

Similarly, another poll (2009) showed that 28% of British Muslims hoped that Britain would one day become an Islamic state ruled according to sharia law.

In addition, in various collated European polls, taken in 2006, it was shown that British Muslims have the most negative views of “Westerners” in the whole of Europe. Ironically, this was not reciprocated by British non-Muslims, who had, at the time, the most positive views of Muslims in Europe. That is, in 2006, 63% of British non-Muslims had positive views of Muslims. However, as with all statistics and polls, this has been graphically contradicted by more recent polls which now show a very negative attitude towards both Islam and Muslims.

Finally, one survey, again from 2006, shows that 81% of British Muslims think of themselves as being Muslims rather than British. That is not a surprise when you bear in mind the fact that this is replicated throughout the Muslim world. In all Muslim countries, Muslims see themselves as Muslims first. Take Pakistan. 87% of Pakistanis see themselves as Muslims rather than Pakistanis (even though this state was created specifically for Muslims). With the rise of Islamism amongst the British young, this way of thinking is bound to increase until, eventually, virtually no young British or English Muslim will see himself or herself as being British or English.

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