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18 April 2019 

Making Sense of the New Census


ISSUE 3 -JAN 2013
It has been ten years since the UK Government last conducted a survey of the whole UK population. This exercise is known as the Census. The term itself comes from Latin word censere , to assess, used by the Romans of 500 BC. However the Romans were not the first nation to do this kind of exercise in fact records of censuses go as far back as 4000BC. In modern times the census provides important information to enable us to understand the social and economic composition of society. It tells us, for example, how many young people there are within different age groups, so that schools and colleges can be built in the right places. The national census also provides information on family size, health, employment and use of transport. It is interesting to note that the 2001 UK Census for the first time in modern British history included the question ‘what is your religion?’ In general past governments have been reluctant to include questions related to religious affiliation. This reluctance has worked against Muslims, first by denying official recognition of Islam as a religion and secondly by playing down its size, preventing Muslims from being considered a large constituent of the national population. The Muslim community had to work very hard to ensure the census included the religion question it needed years of campaigning, lobbying and working together with other faith communities in the UK. According to the 2001 census, 1.54 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, where they formed 3.3% of the population The data from last year’s census is gradually coming through giving us a clearer picture of the make-up of British society. The 2011 census estimates that there are now 2.7 million British Muslims, with almost half of them living in London. Although this increase can be regarded as good news the community still suffers from the kinds of problems identified in the last census. In fact little seems to have changed for the better. As far as Muslims are concerned unemployment is still disproportionally high along with poor education and over-crowded housing. The problems are compounded by systematic media hostility making the situation so bad that Lord Leveson could not ignore citing it in his recent inquiry into the British press. In fact Islamophobia has been instrumental in manipulating public opinion to the extent that half of all Britons believe that there are too many Muslims in Britain and that they are a problem despite the fact that many Muslims from Pakistani or Bangladeshi families born in the UK take more pride in being British than any other immi - grant group. Sensationalising the rapid growth of Islam and the Muslim population to “takeover” proportions has further ag - gravated relationships with other communities with Muslim men being abused, mosques being attacked and Muslim women being singled out in society. The data of the new census also shows that despite increased ethnic diversity in England and Wales since 2001 white British people still represent 80.5% of the population. This data tells us that those alarmist voices warning of an imminent Islamisation of Britain are nothing more than scaremongers and share the responsibility for the suffering inflicted on many Muslim families. Although Islam continues its steady and slow growth in England and Wales, it is those who describe themselves as having “No religion” who occupy the second most common category representing more than a quarter of the population (25.1%; 14.1 million), up from 7.7 million (14.8%) in 2001. Britain appears to be rapidly losing its Christian character.
BY Ibrahim Aarif ... read more