Free Hal, whose first guest-essay was posted here a couple of weeks ago, returns with an article about a frequently-discussed subject: the actual Muslim population in the UK.
Determining a reliable figure for the number of Muslims in Britain is difficult for two reasons. First, the topic is considered impolite, politically incorrect, and generally off-limits, so that official statistics are hard to come by. Second, there are so many illegal immigrants into the UK that determining actual numbers would be all but impossible in any case.
But Hal has done his homework, and draws some conclusions based on the available data.
Islam in the UK: The Numbers
by Free Hal
How big is the Islamic population of Britain, and how fast it is growing?
Britain is generally considered have a population approximately 3% Muslim (by 2001 figures). France (10%), Netherlands (7%), Belgium (8%), and Sweden (5%) have higher percentage Islamic populations.
These are the general figures. But, being a sordid subject, neither it nor its implications are frequently analysed. 1.6 million has been the official UK figure for so long that the implication is that it won’t change much.
Talk of the growth of Islamic numbers in the UK is taboo. This in itself is evidence that the utopia of tolerance is shared by few outside official circles. No-one censors the mundane and irrelevant.
However, that figure is itself unreliable, and the growth rate has been fast, before and since.
And the more you analyse the figures, the more shocking they are.
There are two points to establish: the base figure, and the growth rate.
The base figure
The Office of National Statistics 2001 Census figures state is that there were 1.6 million Muslims in Britain, out of a population of 49.1 million. That figure has been criticized as artificially low because the section of the form asking about religion wasn’t compulsory (“10. What is your religion? This question is voluntary”). So people will have completed the census but left that part blank. It would certainly be interesting to see how big a proportion of the people who completed that section is represented by that 1.6 million. It will also be interesting to see if the question remains voluntary in 2011.
Fortunately, this official study can be supplemented by piecing together unofficial — but still liberal establishment in funding and tone — studies. You just have to root around to find them, and then spend a lot of time joining the dots. Their findings are surprisingly consistent:
– – – – – – – – –
|1.||The Guardian reported a figure of 1.8 million in 2002: The Guardian, June 17, 2002, ‘British Muslims’ series — A map of Muslim Britain, Appendix A, referred to in the George Soros’s ‘Open Society Institute’ report, ‘The Situation of Muslims in the UK’ (pdf). This figure chimes with the base figure of 1.7 million in 2001 plus 6.5% p.a. growth: 1.7 million + 6.5% = 1.8105 million.|
|2.||The Financial Times, in January 23, 2002, quoted Professor M Anwar, head of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, University of Warwick, that there were 1.8 million Muslims in the UK. This figure chimes with 1.7 million in 2001: 1.8 million — 6.5% = 1.683 million.|
|3.||Analysis commissioned by the MCB itself in 2001, based on the 1999 electoral roll, totalled the British Muslim population at 1.7 million.|
|4.||In 1997 The Runnymede Trust, “Islamophobia — a challenge for us all“ put the figure at 1.5 million. This figure works out to be roughly 1.8 million by 2000, given a 6.5% growth rate.|
These figures correlate remarkably closely on a growth rate of about 6.5% a year: conservatively, 1.6 million in 2000 and about 1.7 million in 2001.
Plus the illegals.
Illegals are necessarily hard to count, let alone break down by religion, but the current official estimate is at least 750,000. If we put half the number of failed asylum seekers and people overstaying their visas as being Muslim (almost certainly a significant underestimate) then that swells the number of UK Muslims by 375,000.
This puts the number of Muslims in Britain, reasonably conservatively, at about 1.9 million in 2000.
The base figure is not nearly so important as the rate of growth. This is the alarming part, and the figures are consistent.
Whilst even commentators the most concerned about the growth of Islam in the UK put its growth in the UK at about 3%, the real growth rate, due largely to high birthrates and the importation of spouses and other relatives, is more than double that.
It has been for almost 6 decades.
Number of Muslims in Britain
In 1951 the Muslim population in Britain was about 23,000.
Ten years later, it was about 82,000 and by 1971 it was 369,000.
At present, there are an estimated 1.8 million Muslims in the UK, making Muslims the largest religious minority in Britain.
(Sources simply “Lancashire Mosques Organisation”, and “International The News. Newspaper”.)
See also the Hudson Institute:
To analyze the nature and extent of Islamist ideological penetration in Britain, it is important to understand the demographic features of British Islam. Britain did not measure religion until the 2001 Census, and even then one’s religious affiliation was only a voluntary question. Britain did however measure migrants’ countries of origin and from these figures it is thought that the 1991 Muslim population was around 1.25 million. The 2001 Census indicated that 1.6 million people in England and Wales and just over 42,000 in Scotland identified themselves as Muslim. The voluntary nature of the question is likely to have led to a low figure and it is now thought that there are around 2 million.
Ceri Peach, “The Muslim population of Great Britain”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, estimated the number of British Muslims in 1991, perhaps conservatively, to be about 1,000,000.
Analysing these figures, the number of Muslims appears to have risen roughly as follows:
- 13.5% p.a. between 1951 to 1961;
- 16% p.a. between 1961 and 1971;
- 5.5% p.a. between 1971 and 1991;
- 7.5% p.a. between 1991 and 2001.
(It is possible that the acceleration between 1991 and 2001 was due to cheaper air travel, plus a general increase in immigration and asylum applications. However, I suspect that Peach’s estimate of 1 million British Muslims in 1991 was a slight underestimate and that the rate of increase has been about 6% to 7% (say 6.5%) from 1991 to 2001.)
6.5% is a very rapid rate of increase: doubling every 12 years. It is not hard to work out the implications of such a projected trend.
The different studies, quoted above, carried out between 1997 and 2002, corroborate each other on the basis of such a growth trend. The totals are consistent if one applies a 6.5% p.a. growth rate — please see above.
6.5% per year is also borne out by the most recent, if sensationally presented, story: “Muslim population ‘rising 10 times faster than rest of society’” at Times Online, January 30, 2009.
The numbers behind the headline further substantiate this already apparent growth rate:
The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.
Experts said that the increase was attributable to immigration, a higher birthrate and conversions to Islam during the period of 2004-2008, when the data was gathered.
The growth from 1.9 million to 2.4 million in the 4 years from 2004 to 2008 is a growth rate of just over 6% per year, not including illegals, i.e. a doubling every 12 years. Plus illegals.
Switch on your calculator and enter the figure of 1.9 million in 2000. Then multiply it by 106.5%. And then multiply that by 106.5%. And again, and again…
By 2030 Britain is 20% Islamic (assuming the total British population stays at 2001 levels).
By 2045 the figure is 51%.
WARNING: THIS IS A PROJECTION. A PROJECTION IS NOT A PREDICTION.
As an example of meaning of this warning, read about the growth of bacteria on a Petri dish, which should, judging by the first few hours, fill the entire laboratory within a few days, but never does. Or the 1960’s projection that ever cheaper fuel sources would result in sources of power ‘too cheap to meter’.
Trends are never rigid, and it is folly to use straight-line projections in a curved universe.
But it would be equal folly to assume that the only possible change in the trend is downward. Or to assume Micawber-like, that ‘something will turn up’. That trend — almost doubling every decade — has continued for the 50 years up to 2001. And then up to 2008.
Why will it stop?
If there is no good reason, then you should run the numbers, and ask whether it matters.