December 18, 2012 at 5:00 am
The latest tranche of data from Britain's 2011 Census was released on December 11. The statistics are for England and Wales only; the census in Northern Ireland and Scotland is separate and the government will release those figures at a later date.
The census data shows that the number of Christians in England and Wales declined by 11% (4.1 million) during the past decade, from 37.3 million in 2001 to 33.2 million in 2011.
During the same period, the Muslim population in England and Wales increased by 80% (1.2 million), from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011, making it the second-largest religion in Britain.
The third-largest religion in England and Wales is Hinduism (817,000), followed by Sikhism (423,000), Buddhism (248,000) and Judaism (263,000).
As a proportion of the population as a whole (56.07 million people were counted in the census), the number of those describing themselves as Christian has dropped from 72% in 2001 to 59% in 2011. The number of Muslims has increased from 3% to 5% over a decade.
To be sure, some analysts believe the true number of Muslims in Britain may be much higher than indicated by the census data. This is because the religion question was the only voluntary question on the 2011 Census and 7.2% of people did not answer the question.
It is believed that many of those who completed the census data were reluctant to identify themselves as Muslims and that the true number of Muslims in the country is considerably higher than the 5% indicated by the census data.
The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation jumped by 83%, from 7.7 million in 2001 to 14.4 million in 2011. In proportional terms, this would imply that one-quarter of people in England and Wales now identify as being non-religious.
The census data corroborates information gleaned from other recent surveys. For example, the 2012 British Social Attitudes Survey found that only about half of Britons claim a religious affiliation, down sharply from 20 years ago, when two out of three did. Barely a quarter of young people identify themselves as religious.
If the increase in agnosticism and atheism in Britain is mostly generational, the surge in the number of Muslims is due to immigration and conversion.
The census data shows that during the past decade, England and Wales experienced their greatest-ever population growth (7.1%) in any 10-year period since 1800. Much of this increase is due to immigration.
In real terms, 13% (or 7.5 million) of the population of England and Wales was born abroad. Of that number, 3.8 million arrived between 2001 and 2011. In other words, most of the immigrants living in England and Wales today arrived within the past 10 years.
The census data shows that London is now the most multicultural region in Britain with the highest proportion of people identifying themselves as Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish. The northeastern and northwestern parts of Britain have the highest proportion of Christians and Wales has the highest proportion of people reporting no religion.
Knowsley, a borough near Liverpool in northwest England, has the highest proportion of people reporting to be Christian, at 80.9%. Tower Hamlets, a borough in east London, has the highest proportion of Muslims, at 34.5% (nearly seven times the figure for England and Wales as a whole). Norwich, a city in eastern England, has the highest proportion of the population reporting no religion, at 42.5%.
The data shows that 13 of the 20 fastest-growing boroughs are those with high concentrations of Muslim residents, led by Tower Hamlets and Newham in east London. The 2011 Census shows that nearly 40% (or about one million) of the Muslims in England and Wales live in London.
Although immigration is the biggest factor in the rise of Islam in Britain, it is also true that hundreds of Britons are converting to Islam every month.
According to a recent survey conducted by an inter-faith group called Faith Matters, the number of British converts to Islam recently passed the 100,000 mark, and there are as many as 5,000 new conversions nationwide each year. Previous estimates had placed the total number of Muslim converts in Britain at between 14,000 and 25,000.
The survey revealed that nearly two thirds of the converts were women, more than 70% were white and the average age at conversion was just 27.
The survey, conducted by Kevin Brice from Swansea University in Wales, asked converts for their views on the negative aspects of British culture. They identified "alcohol and drunkenness," a "lack of morality and sexual permissiveness" and "unrestrained consumerism."
More than one in four acknowledged there was a "natural conflict" between being a devout Muslim and living in Britain. Nine out of ten women converts said their change of religion had led to them dressing more conservatively. More than half started wearing a head scarf and 5% had worn the burka.
Separately, government authorities recently revealed that an increasing number of inmates at British prisons are converting to Islam. For example, one-third of the inmates at one of Britain's most notorious youth jails are Muslims and the religion is attracting a large number of converts.
Prison insiders say most non-Muslims are locked up during Friday prayers because so many guards are needed to monitor the lunchtime service. As a consequence, many disillusioned youngsters are becoming attracted to Islam by the prospect of getting better food and superior treatment at the prison.
Most conversions to Islam are being triggered by a combination of increasing proselytizing activity by Muslims as well as by a growing disaffection with Christianity.
Some observers say the decline of traditional Christian churches in Britain, a trend that is being accompanied by the demise of Judeo-Christian moral codes in British society, is creating a spiritual vacuum that Islam is beginning to fill.
In any event, all indications are that a growing number of Britons who grew up in nominally Christian households are converting to Islam. This partially explains why the number of Muslims is increasing while the number of Christians is declining.
This trend can be expected to continue. In a study released in 2005, the British-based association Christian Research said that successive generations attend church less frequently than previous ones.
The study, English Church Census 2005, predicted that the number of Christians attending Sunday services in Britain will fall by two-thirds over the next three decades. The study also expected that poor attendance will force some 18,000 churches to close.
At the same time, all indications are that the Muslim population in Britain will continue to grow in the future. At the current rates of growth, the number of Muslims will double again by the time the next census is conducted in 2021, and will then make up 10% of the population.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
December 18, 2012 at 4:30 am
The Muslim Brotherhood [MB] will apparently stop at nothing to achieve their goal of controlling Egypt. On December 1, the Daily Mail reported that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was paying gangs to rape women and beat men who were protesting the latest push for absolute power by Egypt's President and MB leader, Mohamed Morsi.
The British daily, The Times, quoted Egyptian activist Magda Adly, the director of the Nadeem Centre for Human Rights, as saying: "under Mubarak, the government paid thugs to beat male protestors and sexually assault women…this is still happening now. ... I believe thugs are being paid money to do this ... the Muslim Brotherhood have the same political approaches as Mubarak."
Marwah Farouk, an activist and member of the Egyptian Socialist National Alliance Party, spoke to ON TV on December 6, after she was allegedly held captive by MB members during anti-Morsi protests in the region of Al-Itahdia Palace. She said two of her female colleagues were kidnapped and detained by MB members, then one of the two -- a former political prisoner -- was sexually assaulted and beaten by MB members who then prevented her colleagues from taking her into the hospital. "All of that happened," she added, "while the police were watching. ... A police officer even told an MB member: 'Whatever you wish to do, sir;'" adding, "All that is happening is systematic."
The surge of sexual harassment in Egypt was also covered by Channel 4, which revealed recently that young men are being paid to attack women who protest the regime. Political activist Affaf Al-Sayed told the channel's reporter, "Muslim Brotherhood members were sexually assaulting women in order to make sure women activists would keep away from Tahrir Square" and that women "were targeted by sexual assaults by both the MB and elements of the former regime." And prominent Egyptian academic and political scientist Jamal Zahran told ON TV that the whole scene in Tahrir Square was a "political harassment" by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The MB denies the claim, and even alleges that "the assaults are executed by thugs dressed in MB T-shirts."
The Islamists' attack on Morsi's female opposition is not exclusive to non-Islamist females; it included Nawarah Nijim, a hijab-wearing activist whose father is a renowned Egyptian poet. Nawarah has been a strong activist against Mubarak's regime, the Egyptian military council and now Morsi's constitutional amendments granting him dictatorial powers. Islamists assaulted her in public last January. An orthodox Muslim, Nijim has been opposed to the Islamists in Egypt. She was interviewed by Al-Fareen TV, where she criticized Egypt's Islamists and said:" I've just come here to find a young man, around 15 years old whom I heard saying: If the Sheikhs of Islam are like those [Egypt's Islamists] I want to disbelieve in God."
While Egypt's Islamists are denying any involvement in sexual attacks against female opposition members, Islamist leaders have nonetheless been publicly threatening male opposition members with harm and even death, and at the same time defaming the honor of the female members of the opposition by describing them as prostitutes, adulterers, belly dancers or ill-mannered. In Arab culture, all accusations are taken at face value. An Arab proverb goes: "A woman's honor is like a match; it can be burnt only once;" therefore, an Arab girl whose honor or chastity has even been questioned automatically becomes a social outcast, regardless of whether or not the accusation was well-founded.
The Texas-based Arab Times, one of the most popular Arab online newspapers, confirmed that the threats and accusations against the personal honor of anti-Islamists was being made by Islamist leaders in Egypt. On December 4, the Arab Times's headline read: "Assaulting personal honor on Egypt's Islamist TV stations: The most significant feature of the Egyptian Spring." The editor comments: "Despite the fact that Islam bans accusations of adultery on innocent people and considers that [a false accusation] one of the seven deadly sins, lately we have come to see that this is not the conviction of the Islamists in Egypt."
The Quran states in the Chapter of Al-Nour (the Light): "And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses - lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient." Therefore, Islamists in Egypt are breaking the laws of the Sharia by accusing women of being adulterers, without any foundation. This slander raises the question: Will the Islamists undergo Sharia's punishment of eighty lashes for these unproven accusations?
The latest victim of the Islamists' accusations was Halah Fehmi; an Egyptian state TV anchor who presented a show against the MB's policy only to find out she was pulled off the air in the middle of a program. In response, she held a shroud to indicate her will to give up her life for her cause; and vowed on live TV to maintain her opposition against the MB and their tactics.
Apparently, unable to withstand the criticism, Islamist TV presenter, Sheikh Khaled Abdullah went on air, called her "a belly dancer" and threatened anti-Morsi protesters with: "Advice for the opposition, don't rush to hold your shrouds, you will be wearing those very soon."
By calling Halah Fehmi a "belly dancer," Sheikh Abdullah undermined her credibility and worthiness both as a woman and as a political activist.
Abdullah Badir -- a Salafist Sheikh, religious scholar, academic and political leader-- has been bombarding Morsi's female opposition with accusations undermining their "honor". He told an Islamist TV network that "each of those in Tahrir Square [Morsi's opposition] is holding a girl under his wing and taking her into one of the tents for the public prostitution that is happening at Tahrir Square, they call it a revolution while it is actually ill-manners and sin."
Sheikh Badir did not restrict making his accusations to TV networks; he also delivered a speech after Friday mosque prayers, in which he said: "As for the thirty girls who were stripped from their clothes at Tahrir Square…of course, those girls are low; actually they go to Tahrir Square for that purpose… any girl sitting there; doesn't she have a family to take her back home? Of course she doesn't; in fact she goes there because of that."
Tarnishing personal honor does not seem to stop with women; Egypt's Islamists also have been targeting the honor of female relatives of Morsi's male opponents. For example, Sheikh Hazem Shoman attacked one of Morsi's outspoken opponents, Muhammad Al-Baradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Sheikh Shoman can be seen here saying, "You want a liberal state? What liberal state Mr. Al-Baradei? You... whose daughter is married to a Christian infidel? Of course she married a Christian infidel because she is a liberal!" According to Islam and Egyptian law, a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man. By making this accusation, Sheikh Shoman is undermining Al-Baradei's honor, and undermining his character as a politician. The accusation was significant enough to send Al- Baradei onto live TV to dismiss the claim by noting that his son-in-law, an Austrian, had converted to Islam "under Sharia law and at the Egyptian embassy in Vienna" before marrying his daughter.
Further, Islamist lawyer Nabih El-Wahsh claimed in an interview with an Islamist TV channel that prominent anti-Morsi TV anchor, Amir Adib, has been breast-fed by the famous Egyptian belly dancer, Najwa Fouad. In Islam, a child who is breast-fed by a woman automatically becomes a son or daughter to her; therefore, Al-Wahsh's claim labels Amir Adib as the son of a belly dancer, reducing his personal honor in the eyes of his viewers.
It is clear that Egypt's Islamists do not observe any values or laws that might stand in their way of controlling the largest Arab country, even if that means breaking the laws of Sharia itself; and for that they do not seem to spare anyone who stands on their way, be they Muslims, or non-Muslims, males or females.