Rumy Hasan and the Census

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The University of Sussex academic Rumy Hasan has recently made a bizarre observation linking the increase in Muslim population in Britain as recorded in the 2011 Census with the phenomenon of Islamophobia:

A blunt truth needs pointing out: if it were the case that Europe was becoming a hot-bed of ant-Muslim racism/Islamophobia, why are so many Muslims from around the world clamouring to get in? Surely we should expect them rushing for the exit door in their droves to the 56 Organisation of Islamic Conference countries? Lest one forgets, in the supposedly ‘Islamophobic decade’ of 2001-2011, the Muslim population of Britain (England and Wales) increased from 3 to 4.8 percent, that is, a 60 per cent increase. Such irrefutable facts do not register on the radar of purveyors of Islamophobia.”

Dr  Hasan’s line of thinking is bizarre because population increases have everything to do with age demographics and fertility and  little to do with the political climate, unless there is draconian social engineering like China’s one-child policy (recently relaxed). The Muslim population in Britain has increased because of at least five factors:

  • Natural growth from a demographic profile of younger people
  • Improved response to the voluntary Religion question compared to 2001
  • New settlement e.g. from Afghanistan and Iraq in the last decade
  • The inclusion of the ‘Arab’ ethnic category encouraged responses
  • Persons adopting the faith

There is no doubt that traditions of multiculturalism and the acceptance of diversity have made Britain a far more congenial home for Muslims than say France.  However Hasan’s linking of population growth to social attitudes is like arguing  the 2.6 percent growth rate of Israeli Arabs – in comparison of 1.7 percent for Jews – is because of the freedoms and liberties they enjoy!

Another Census statistic is that over 40% of the Muslim population live in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods of England and Wales. Those on the Right would argue that poverty is because of lack of intelligence and general laziness, and not structural inequalities like settlement in regions of declining industry. Similarly the Census provides alarming data on self-described bad or poor health.  Dr Hasan would most likely ascribe this to a self-exaggeration or a quest for sympathy, just as he thinks Muslims in Britain perversely exaggerate Islamophobia.

Moreover, he also asks why ‘they’ – the Muslims of Europe’ are not leaving for the OIC countries? The reason is that Europe is their home. If a second or third generation Muslim is asked to ‘go back home’ the response is likely for the fare to return to Camden or Blackburn. And the reason so many Muslims are ‘clamouring’ to get in from Asia and Africa is because of the flow of labour in a globalised world.

It is a tragedy that the left-wing intellectuals of yesterday are beginning to sound like fascists. One can understand it for the likes of Pamela Geller, who, when having to make a choice between Zionist colonialism and Palestinian rights, dropped the fight for social justice and became a Likkudite. But why should someone of Pakistani-Muslim heritage not recognise that Islamophobia is another facet of colour and cultural racism?