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Britain's Muslim population nearly doubles in decade

The Muslim population of Britain is growing faster than the overall population of the country and has nearly doubled to 2.7 million in the past decade, according to the most comprehensive report on the community in UK, released on Thursday.



London: The Muslim population of Britain is growing faster than the overall population of the country and has nearly doubled to 2.7 million in the past decade, according to the most comprehensive report on the community in UK, released on Thursday.

The analysis of 2011 census figures indicate that 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales compared with 1.55 million in 2001 and one in 12 schoolchildren are now officially classed as Muslim.

The report compiled by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and presented to Parliament concludes that in the coming general election Muslims could play a decisive role on at least 26 parliamentary constituencies, which have a Muslim population of 20 per cent or more.

"There has been a spreading-out effect and this has accelerated in the past 10 years,"?said Sundas Ali, Oxford University sociologist and the MCB report's analyst.

The Muslim population in England and Wales also has a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people with one in three Muslims under the age of 15, compared with fewer than one in five overall.

There are also fewer elderly Muslims, with 4 per cent aged over 65, compared with 16 per cent of the overall population.

In terms of the UK as a whole, a further 77,000 Muslims in Scotland and 3,800 in Northern Ireland add to the 2. 71 million total for England and Wales.

In his response to the report, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "What is not in doubt is that British Muslims can be proud of the contribution they make to our country."

MCB secretary-general Dr Shuja Shafi said: "Many things have been said about Muslims but rarely on an empirical basis. This report shows the successes in our community but also highlights the many challenges we face."

The data provides a basis for discussion within the community and poses some serious policy issues for the government.

In terms of education, Muslim communities in 2011 are doing comparatively better than in 2001 but lag behind Britain's Sikh and Hindu population.

Looking at Muslims over the age of 16, 24 per cent have high qualifications at degree level. For the general population this is 27 per cent, for Hindus 45 per cent and Sikhs 30 per cent.

Economic activity among Muslims is lower than the overall population as a whole.

In 2011, 19.8 per cent of Muslims were in full-time employment, compared with 34.9 per cent of the overall population.

Despite high numbers of Muslim women in full-time education, the findings show that within the 16 to 74 age band, 18 per cent of Muslim women are "looking after home and family", compared with 6 per cent in the overall population.

The study also finds that almost half of all Muslims live in the most deprived local authority districts in England an increase since 2001, when the figure was one in three.  

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