UK Muslim Demographics
S E C R E T LONDON 000027
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/I AND EUR/WE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2018
TAGS: PINR KISL KPLS UK
SUBJECT: UK MUSLIM DEMOGRAPHICS (C-RE8-02527)
REF: A. 08 STATE 128186
¶B. LONDON DAILY REPORT 7-28-08
Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills, Jr. for reasons 1.4 (b)
¶1. (S/NF) Summary. Per reftel, this cable provides
information on the demographics of the Muslim community in
the UK. The last official UK census was in 2001 and much of
what is provided below is a combination of census figures and
subsequent estimates and surveys. Post notes that the
information is incomplete and in many cases several years
old. This is, however, the most current and accurate
information available. Among the findings are that the UK
Muslim population has jumped in seven years from 1.6 million
to 2 million. At that rate of increase, HMG estimates that
the Muslim population of the UK at the next census in 2011
will be over 2.2 million. End Summary.
Overall Muslim Population Growing But Rate Slowing
¶2. (C) The 2001 UK census showed a population of 1.6 million
Muslims. In April 2008, the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith
announced that HMG estimated the Muslim population at 2
million or 3.3% of the UK population. This represented an
increase of 400,000 in seven years. The 1951 census showed a
population of Muslims of less than 22,000. Therefore between
1951 and 2001 (50 years) there had been an annualized
increase of 31,500 Muslims in the UK, but in the seven year
period between 2001 and 2008 there was an actual annualized
increase of 57,000. The rate of increase as measured by
decades has slowed, however. In 1961, the population of
Muslims in the UK was 2.5 times what it had been in 1951.
Between 1961 and 1971 the Muslim population multiplied an
astonishing 5 times its previous population. Thereafter the
Muslim population's rate of growth began to slow. In 1981 it
was only 2.4 times the 1971 population (this was attributed
to the ending of unlimited Commonwealth immigration in the
early 1970's). In 1991 it was only 1.7 times what it had been
in 1981; and between 1991 and 2001 it only grew by 1.6 times
the previous population. Based on a projected 2011
population of 2.2 million, the rate of increase between 2001
and 2011 is estimated to be 1.4 times the 2001 figure. In
overall numbers, the UK Muslim population is rapidly
increasing, but its rate of growth is slowly decreasing.
Changes to UK visa rules announced in 2008 may slow this rate
Immigration Or Birthrate?
¶3. (C) HMG does not categorize either births or immigration
by religion. A rough estimate, however, based on immigration
statistics by country of origin indicates 50-55,000 "self
declared" Muslims were granted settlement (permanent
residence) in the UK in 2007. Based on the aforementioned
57,000 annualized growth in the Muslim population, it is
clear that a significant portion of the population growth
among Muslims in the UK is based on immigration. 34% of
Muslims in 2001 were below the age of 16, however, and 63% of
Muslim households had at least one child and 25% contained 3
or more children. Based on these statistics a report by the
NGO Migration Watch UK (MWUK), which favors restrictions on
immigration, estimated in 2008 that the real number of
Muslims in the UK was closer to 3 million which would be 5%
of the UK population.
Raw Data: Office of National Statistics
¶4. (SBU) The following are excerpts from the UK's Office of
National Statistics (ONS), all data is from the 2001 UK
census unless otherwise noted.
-- The 2001 Census showed that out of the total UK population
of 58.8 million, 1.6 million identify as Muslims. At 3
percent, this is the largest non-Christian religious
population. They are a young, tightly clustered, but often
disadvantaged community, according to UK social and economic
-- People with Muslim backgrounds are most concentrated in
London (38% of the total UK Muslim population) and other
large urban areas, including the West Midlands (14% of the
Muslim population), the North West (13%), and Yorkshire and
the Humber (12%). Within these areas, Muslims are highly
concentrated spatially. Muslims make up 8% of the population
of London overall, but 36% of the Tower Hamlets area and 24%
of the Newham area population.
-- 70% of Muslims gave their national identity as British,
English, Scottish, or Welsh; 91% of UK-born Muslims gave a
British national identity.
-- More than half of Muslim adults living in England and
Wales in 2001 said their religion was important to their
-- Muslims are the second least-likely of all religious
groups to have been born in the UK, with the majority being
born outside the UK; 46% were born in the UK, 39% were born
in Asia (Pakistan - 18%; Bangladesh - 9%; India - 3%), 9%
were born in Africa (Somalia - 2%; Kenya - 1%), and 4% were
born in Europe outside the UK (Turkey - 3%, former
Yugoslavian countries - 1%).
-- Muslims were more likely than all other groups of UK 16 to
24-year-olds to be living with a partner, either as a married
or cohabiting couple (19% each).
-- Among 45 to 54-year-olds, 17% described their marital
status as divorced, separated or re-married.
-- Muslims households were the least likely to be homeowners
(52%) and are the most likely among all religious groups to
be living in accommodation rented from the council or housing
association (28%); 4% live rent-free.
-- 32% of Muslim households live in overcrowded
accommodation. Average family size for a Muslim family is
3.8, which can contribute to overcrowding. 34% of Muslim
households contained more than five people. 63% contained at
least one dependent child, and 25% contained three or more
-- Unemployment rates were higher for Muslims than any other
religion, for both men and women. Muslim male unemployment
rate was 13% in 2004, and for women it was 18%.
-- Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 had the highest
unemployment rates at 28%; 11% of Muslims over the age of 25
-- Muslims were most likely to be unavailable or not actively
seeking work due to reasons such as disability, being a
student, or looking after the family and home. 31% of
working-age men were economically inactive, as were 69% of
-- With 34% of Muslims under the age of 16 in 2001, Muslims
have the youngest age profile of all the religious groups in
Great Britain. Less than one in ten were aged 65 or older.
-- Muslim men outnumber women 52% to 48%.
-- 74% of Muslims are from an Asian ethnic background
(Pakistani - 43%, Bangladeshi - 16%, Indian - 8%, Other Asian
- 6%), Almost 1.2 million Asian Muslims were living in Great
Britain in 2001. Another 11% were from a White ethnic
background, including 4% of White British origin and 7% from
another White background (including Turkish, Cypriot, Arab
and Eastern European). 6% of Muslims were of Black African
origin, mainly from North and West Africa.
-- Muslims, both male and female, had the highest rates of
reported ill health in 2000. Age-standardized rates of "not
good" health were 13% for Muslim males and 16% for Muslim
-- Muslims had the highest rates of disability, with 24% of
females and 21% of males claiming a disability.
-- Lone parent households are less common within Muslim
communities, with around 50% of Muslim households headed by
an individual who is part of a married couple.
-- Muslim households were also more likely to contain more
than one family, with 19% of all multiple family households
-- 33% of working-age Muslims in Great Britain had no
qualifications in 2004, which is the highest rate of any
religious group. At 12%, they were also the least likely to
have degrees or equivalent qualifications.
-- Muslims who were born in the UK are more likely than
Muslims born elsewhere to have a degree or equivalent
qualification at any age. UK-born Muslims under the age of
30 were almost twice as likely to have degrees as those born
elsewhere in 2004.
-- 371,000 school-aged (5 to 16 years old) Muslim children
were in England in 2001, and by 2008 there were seven
state-maintained Islamic schools catering to around 2,100
-- One-fifth of Muslims were self-employed n 2004.
-- 37% of Muslim men and over a quarter of Muslim women were
working in the distribution, hotel and restaurant industry.
-- One in seven Muslim men work in the transport and
-- Less than a third of Muslim men work in managerial or
professional occupations, and almost one in ten worked as a
taxi driver, cab driver or chauffeur in 2004.
-- Between 16 and 20% of Muslim women work in sales and
customer service jobs.
Raw Data: Post's 2008 Religious Freedom Report and NGOs
¶5. (SBU) The following are excerpted from Post's
International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) and reports or
studies from various Muslim and migration/immigration NGO's.
Citations are from the IRFR unless otherwise noted.
-- The Government estimates the number of mosques in the UK
to be around 1,000.
-- A May 8, 2008, Religious Trends report states that more
than 50% of Muslims regularly worship at mosques. (Embassy
Comment: Religious Trends is a UK think tank that monitors a
wide array of religious issues. Among other things, the 2008
report noted that while 43 million UK residents claimed to be
Christians, less than 3 million (7%) regularly worship in
churches. End Comment).
-- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reported a decrease in
prosecutions over the previous reporting period for
religiously-motivated incidents, with only 29 cases
classified as religiously-aggravated offenses. Of the 23
cases in which the victim's religious affiliation is known,
17 were Muslim.
-- In 2006, controversy arose after 100 Islamic private
schools turned out to be "little more than places where the
Koran is recited," the schools promised to upgrade their
instruction and they are due for review in 2010.
-- According to a poll of 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim
students at thirty universities throughout the UK conducted
by the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), as reported ref B,
32 percent of Muslims on UK campuses believe killing in the
name of religion is justified, 54 percent wanted a Muslim
Party to represent their world view in Parliament, and 40
percent want Muslims in the UK to be under Sharia law. Only
2 percent of non-Muslims felt killing in the name of religion
could be justified and none believed it was acceptable for
Muslims in the UK to have a religious-based party, or to be
under Sharia law. 73 percent of Muslim students are at least
occasional participants in Friday services while only 2
percent of non-Muslim students attend any religious service.
The poll results also found that 73 percent of Muslim
students believe it is possible to be both Muslim and British
and a similar number believe their parents are "much more or
somewhat more" strict Muslims than they are. In addition
only six percent believed that people who leave Islam for
another religion should be "punished according to Sharia law"
-- According to MWUK, arranged marriages in the Muslim
community are creating unusually large population growth in
areas where Muslims predominate, since first-generation
families tend to have larger numbers of children (based on
published research and a comparison of the 1991 and 2001
census). For example, in the eighties the Bradford (city)
Council estimated that the Muslim population would reach
130,000 by 2030 and then level off. Now the projection is
for 130,000 by 2020 and rising. Bradford is a West Yorkshire
industrial city whose 2001 population of 294,000 included an
estimated 75,000 Muslims (25%), predominantly of Pakistani
origin. Bradford has the largest Muslim population in the UK
outside of London, and no single London borough
(neighborhood) has as large a Muslim population.
-- Also according to MWUK, the number of marriageble-age
Muslims in the South Asian community had jumped from 155,000
in 1991 to 236,000 in 2001. MWUK claims the majority of
members of these communities seek spouses from overseas in
arranged marriages. MWUK claims these figures point to a much
larger Muslim population than HMG is reporting and is
projecting. HMG says arranged marriages with South Asian
partners, "are a normal facet of settlement figures."
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