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The Challenge of Islam in the UK

The Challenge of Islam in the UK

Date Published: 
Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Segregation and lack of integration

The Policy Exchange report: “Unsettled Belonging: A survey of Britain’s Muslim communities”, published in 2016, claimed to be the most extensive research of British Muslims ever conducted. The report found that 53% of Muslims were born outside the UK, while 93% had parents born outside the UK. This demonstrates that much of the growth is occurring through immigration.

According to the report, 43% of Muslims support the introduction of sharia law broadly defined. 53% prefer to send their children to a school with strong ‘Muslim values’. 44% said that schools should be able to insist on ‘a hijab or niqab’ in uniform, while 32% disagreed with this.

The government commissioned Dame Louise Casey to review integration in society. Her report was published in December 2016. She found that there is indeed a problem in terms of integration of religious minorities. In a striking statement, she said:

None of the 800 or more people that we met, nor any of the two hundred plus written submissions to the review, said there wasn’t a problem to solve.

In many ways it is encouraging that there is widespread recognition of the problem. This also means that that it is becoming more politically acceptable to say that there is a problem here.

Casey articulated something of a cultural clash in some of our communities:

I also found  … cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws. Time and time again I found it was women and children who were the targets of these regressive practices. And too often, leaders and institutions were not doing enough to stand up against them and protect those who were vulnerable.