The Muslim population of Britain reached 3.4 million in 2014 to become around 5.3% of the overall population of 64 million, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe. In real terms, Britain has the third-largest Muslim population in the European Union, after France and Germany.
Islam and Islam-related issues were omnipresent in Britain during 2014, and can be categorized into four broad themes: 1) and the security implications of British jihadists in Syria; 2) the continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain; 3) the sexual exploitation of British children by Muslim gangs; and 4) Muslim integration into British society.
What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories involving the rise of Islam in Britain during 2014.
In January, an analysis of census data showed that nearly 10% of the babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim. The percentage of Muslims among children under five is almost twice as high as in the general population. By way of comparison, fewer than one in 200 people over the age of 85 are Muslim, an indication of the extent to which the birth rate is changing the religious demographic in Britain.
Also in January, Muslim fundamentalists threatened to behead a fellow British Muslim after he posted an innocuous image of Mohammed and Jesus on his Twitter account. The death threats against Maajid Nawaz, a Liberal Democrat Party candidate for British Parliament, added to the growing number of cases in which Islamists are using intimidation tactics to restrict the free speech rights of fellow Muslims in Europe.
On January 16, a Muslim woman was arrested by counter-terrorism police at Heathrow Airport as she was preparing to board a flight to Turkey. Nawal Masaad, 26, is accused of trying to smuggle £16,500 ($27,000; €20,000) in her underwear to jihadists in Syria. She and her alleged co-conspirator, Amal El-Wahabi, 27—a Moroccan who does not work and claims British social welfare benefits for herself and two young sons—were the first British women to be charged with terrorism offenses linked to the conflict in Syria.
On January 23, the head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit, Commander Richard Walton, revealed that 14 British minors were arrested on charges linked to the Syrian conflict in January alone, compared to 24 for the whole of 2013. He said it was “almost inevitable” that some fighters would try to mount attacks in Britain upon their return.
On January 16, British Islamist Abu Waleed outlined his vision of an Islamic state in Britain, and called for Christians to be humiliated so that they would convert to Islam. In a video, he said:
“If the Muslim sees a kaffir [non-Muslim] with nice clothes, the kaffir has to take his clothes off and give them to the Muslim. The kaffir, when he walks down the street, he has to wear a red belt around his neck, and he has to have his forehead shaved, and he has to wear two shoes that are different from one another. He [the non-believer] is not allowed to walk on the pavement, he has to walk in the middle of the road, and he has to ride a mule. That is, my dear brothers, the Islamic state.”
In Bristol, the city council approved a controversial plan to convert a former comedy club into a mosque. In Cambridgeshire, a Muslim group submitted plans to convert a warehouse into a new mosque. In Cambridge, locals opposed a plan to build a £17.5 million ($28.5 million; €21 million) mega-mosque, claiming it could be “a front for terrorism.” In Blackburn, home to nearly 100 mosques, city councilors were urged to reject a plan to open a mosque in a residential neighborhood.
In Southend, local residents celebrated after a four-year battle resulted in the closing of an illegal mosque. In Newton Mearns, south of Glasgow, plans were abandoned to build a mosque within the grounds of a school in one of the most affluent suburbs of Scotland, due to local criticism of the move.
In Catherine-de-Barnes, a tiny village in western central England, local residents objected to plans for a large, Muslim-only cemetery, which will include space for 4,000 followers of Islam to be buried, and 75 parking spaces for visitors. The village has a population of just 613, which means the cemetery could eventually hold six-and-a-half times as many people as Catherine-de-Barnes itself.
In February, official statistics showed that net immigration to the United Kingdom surged to 212,000 in the year ending September 2013, a significant increase from 154,000 in the previous year. The new immigration data cast doubt on a pledge by Prime Minister David Cameron to get net migration—the difference between the number of people entering Britain and those leaving—down to the “tens of thousands” before the general election in May 2015.
Separately, data released by the National Crime Agency showed a 155% rise in British children groomed by sex gangs during 2013.
Also in January, a Muslim extremist who hacked a soldier to death on a London street in May 2013, launched a taxpayer-funded appeal against his murder conviction. Michael Adebolajo, 29, who tried to behead the British soldier Lee Rigby with a meat cleaver, maintained that he should not have been convicted because he is a “soldier of Allah” and therefore Rigby’s killing was an act of war rather than premeditated murder.
Adebolajo and his co-defendant, Michael Adebowale, 22, were found guilty by a jury in December 2013, and were sentenced on February 26. Adebolajo was given a “whole-life” prison term and Adebowale was given a minimum term of 45 years. Adebolajo’s brother said his sibling was the victim of “Islamophobia.”
On February 16, The Sunday Times reported that about 250 British jihadists who went to train and fight in Syria had returned to the UK and were being monitored by the security services. Senior officials said the high number of “returnees”—five times the figure that had been previously reported—underlined the growing danger posed by “extremist tourists” going to the war-torn region. MI5 and police said they feared that “returnees” could be preparing a Mumbai-style gun attack on civilians, possibly in a crowded public place in London.
On February 14, three Muslim vigilantes who terrorized innocent members of the public as the self-styled “Muslim Patrol” were banned from promoting Sharia Law in Britain for a period of five years.
In March, British authorities launched an investigation into the source of a document that purportedly outlined a plot by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize public schools in England and Wales. The four-page document described a strategy—dubbed Operation Trojan Horse—to oust non-Muslim head teachers and staff at state schools in Muslim neighborhoods and replace them with individuals who would run the schools according to strict Islamic principles.
Also in March, a report entitled, “Easy Meat: Multiculturalism, Islam and Child Sex Slavery,” showed how officials in England and Wales were aware of rampant child grooming—the process by which sexual predators befriend and build trust with children in order to prepare them for abuse—by Muslim gangs since at least 1988. Rather than taking steps to protect British children, however, police, social workers, teachers, neighbors, politicians and the media deliberately downplayed the severity of the crimes perpetrated by the grooming gangs in order to avoid being accused of “Islamophobia” or racism.
Meanwhile, official figures revealed that record levels of Muslims are serving jail sentences and that the numbers are still growing. Across England and Wales the proportion has risen from 8% one decade ago to 14% now. In London, the figure is 27%, which is more than double the 12% of the capital’s population who are Muslim.
On March 27, ITV News reported that the problem of honor-based violence and forced marriages in England is “worse than people think,” but that many people are afraid of speaking out because they do not want to be branded as being “racist.”
It only gets worse as the months go by. Read it all at Gatestone Institute.