The Muslim population of Britain surpassed 4.1 million in 2017 to become around 6.3% of the overall population of 64 million, according to 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, then Germany.
The rapid growth of Britain’s Muslim population can be attributed to immigration, high birth rates and conversions to Islam.
Islam and Islam-related issues, omnipresent in Britain during 2017, can be categorized into several broad themes: 1) Islamic extremism and the security implications of British jihadists; 2) The continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain; 3) The sexual exploitation of British children by Muslim gangs; 4) Muslim integration into British society; and 5) The failures of British multiculturalism.
• Full story at the Gatestone Institute.
Scottish and related events:
January 6. St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow featured a reading from the Koran which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Koran reading, aimed at “reaching out to Muslims,” was held on Epiphany, a festival which celebrates the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the Queen’s chaplains, Gavin Ashenden, referred to the Koran reading as “blasphemy” and said the decision showcased the limits of interfaith dialogue. He resigned on January 23 in order to “speak more freely” about the struggle of Christianity in British culture.
January 7. Tanveer Ahmed, a 32-year-old jihadist serving a 27-year prison sentence for the murder in Glasgow of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper, issued a recording from Scotland’s Barlinnie prison in which he called for the “elimination” of the enemies of Islam.
January 20. Gloucester Cathedral invited Imam Hassan of the local Masjid-e-Noor mosque to perform the traditional Muslim invocation to worship at the launch of a multicultural Faith Exhibition. A video of the call to prayer was posted on the cathedral’s Facebook page. One commenter wrote: “My ancestors built this cathedral and to allow a practicing Muslim to pray to another god is insanely naive. What did you think it would do? Encourage them to convert?”
January 26. The City of Edinburgh invited citizens to vote for projects designed to create a city “free from Islamophobia.” Some £40,000 ($54,000) were made available for projects “to help local people deliver innovative projects which reduce prejudice and foster positive relationships between diverse communities.”
February 5. Muslim pupils outnumber Christian children in more than 30 church schools, including one Church of England primary school that has a “100% Muslim population,” according to The Sunday Times. St. Thomas in Werneth, Oldham, is reported to have no Christian pupils, while at Staincliffe Church of England Junior School in Batley, West Yorkshire, 98% of pupils “come from a Muslim background.” The Church of England estimated that about 20 of its schools had more Muslim pupils than Christians and 15 Roman Catholic schools had majority Muslim pupils.
February 12. A National Health Service (NHS) project based on research by Leeds University claimed that Muslims with mental health issues could be helped by re-embracing Islam. Lead researcher Ghazala Mir helped to create a new treatment: Patients are asked if faith was part of their life when they were well. Those who stopped being religious are re-introduced to Islam by means of a self-help booklet.
February 26. Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani, a 33-year-old Iranian-born convert from Islam set to be ordained as a Church of England priest, accused Oxford University of discrimination and bias after he was told he could not ask a professor questions about Islam. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a former senior fellow at Wycliffe Hall, said that a “politically correct” atmosphere is “very widespread in the university as a whole.” He added: “If people are taking money from these [Muslim] sources, then that can limit the critical approach to the study of Islam and Muslim civilization generally.”
March 7. The National Health Service (NHS) revealed that there were 2,332 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain between October and December 2016. That statistic brought the total of new cases in 2016 to nearly 5,500.
March 10. The BBC announced that it would begin outsourcing production of Songs of Praise, a Sunday worship program that has been produced in-house for 55 years. Critics of the move said they feared that Songs of Praise will lose its Christian focus in favor of Islam. Anglican priest Lynda Rose said a recent Songs of Praise episode featuring a segment about the Muslim faith, including Church of England children visiting a mosque, exemplified the “Islamization of the BBC.” More than 6,000 people signed an online petition calling for MPs to investigate the BBC after it appointed Fatima Salaria as the BBC’s head of religious programming — the second Muslim in a row to hold the post.
March 31. A new biography of Prince Charles revealed that the heir to the British throne tried to halt the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to “honor” Ramadan. He made the plea in an “urgent call” to William Farish, the American ambassador to London, four weeks into the huge military operation launched after the 9/11 terror attacks.
April 11. The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, asked Islamic Relief to explain why it invited a hardline Muslim preacher to star in a fundraising tour of Britain. [Islamic Relief also operates in Scotland.] Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated American academic, has been recorded telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of Islam. Qadhi, who featured in an eight-city tour, described Islamic punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves as “very beneficial to society.”
April 14. Sainsbury’s and Asda, two of Britain’s largest supermarket chains, refused to sell Easter eggs that tell the story of Christianity. Both chains, however, sold eggs that are not specifically Christian, including a halal version made by the Belgian firm Guylian.
April 25. Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of ignoring Muslim voters after she scheduled the general election in the middle of Ramadan. Muslim politicians from Labour and the Scottish National Party said they feared reduced voter turnout among Muslims on June 8, during Ramadan, which took place between May 16 and June 14.
April 27. The Church of England said that British children should be required to learn about Islam. Derek Holloway of the Church of England’s education office said that Christian parents who do not want their children to learn about Islam should not be allowed to withdraw their children from religious education lessons. At present, parents can insist that their children take no part in religious education lessons and do not have to provide a reason. Holloway said that parents with “fundamentalist” Christian beliefs, who did not want their children to learn about other world views, risked leaving pupils with little understanding of Islam and without the skills to live in a modern and diverse Britain. Holloway did not say whether Muslim children should be required to learn about Christianity and Judaism.
May 1. Army cadets in Scotland were warned not to wear their uniforms in public because they could be targeted by jihadists.
May 14. Mohan Singh, founder of the Sikh Awareness Society, said that Muslim grooming gangs have been allowed to prosper in Britain because the authorities are afraid they will be labelled racist if they speak out.
July 4. The National Health Service (NHS) recorded 5,391 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) during the past year. Almost half the victims were women and girls living in London. One-third were women and girls born in Somalia, while 112 cases were UK-born nationals. Although FGM was banned in the UK in 1985, not a single person has been convicted of the crime.
July 14. Jahed Choudhury, 24, thought to be one of the first British Muslims to be in a same-sex marriage, said that since his wedding, he had received death threats online and abuse on the streets: “The worst messages say, ‘the next time I see you in the streets, I’m going to throw acid in your face.’ Even if I walk down the streets, I have people spitting on me and calling me pig.”
July 22. Zana Hassan, a 29-year-old Iraqi who has been living illegally in Britain for nine years, avoided deportation after he stormed into a Methodist church and threatened churchgoers. “I will kill you and kill all the English,” he shouted. The Crown Prosecution Service deemed the offense a “low-level disorder,” which allowed Hassan to avoid time in jail. Hassan walked free after Home Office officials failed to seek a deportation order.
August 10. More than 700 women and girls were identified as potential victims of sexual grooming in the North East of England and authorities expected the figure to rise following the conviction of a high-profile grooming gang. “I think there’s every likelihood that this is happening in every town and city across the country,” Chief Constable Ashman said.
September 1. Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, wrote: “There is a risk that…an organization with the words ‘British’ and ‘Cross’ in its title is confused with a Christian, establishment organization.” He added: “We are nowhere near as diverse as we need to be in our volunteer base, our staffing or our leadership…that is why, as CEO, I am personally leading our inclusion and diversity strategy.”
September 2. A Christian church in Wales was accused of a “lack of unity” after it rejected a Muslim group’s request to hold Koran studies in its hall. The Muslims wanted to use the hall in the Feed My Lambs Church for “Koran and cultural studies.” Reverend Roger Donaldson said: “We are not against Islam; no way. Everybody has the right to worship as they please. Feed My Lambs is used for Christian worship.”
September 4. Robbie Travers, a 21-year-old law student at Edinburgh University, was investigated for a hate crime after he allegedly mocked the Islamic State on social media. After the U.S. Air Force attacked an Islamic State stronghold in Afghanistan in April, Travers wrote on Facebook: “I’m glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins.” A fellow student, Esme Allman, claimed that Travers breached the student code of conduct with his comments. Travers ultimately was exonerated.
September 14. A Dundee woman on a city bus found a handwritten note pledging: “Sharia law will be for all human beings with Islam. The sword will be used to reach this goal.” The woman said that she believed the message to be “some sort of call to Jihad.” She added: “We just didn’t expect to find something saying that on a bus in Dundee.”
October 27. Steve Bailey, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Oadby, Leicestershire, banned the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” from a Remembrance Sunday service “in case it offends non-Christians.”
November 2. The British government and the UN are discriminating against Christians and other minorities in their refugee programs, according to Home Office statistics seen by Barnabas Fund, an aid agency that works for persecuted Christians. Barnabas Fund obtained figures proving that the UN has only recommended tiny token numbers of Syrian Christians, Yazidis and other minorities for resettlement in the UK. The overwhelming majority of refugees recommended by the UN have been Sunni Muslims who form the majority in Syria. But Christians, and other minorities have been repeatedly targeted for attack by Islamist groups such as IS. British officials tried to prevent the release of this information.
November 13. Tesco, the supermarket giant, faced a social media backlash after it released a Christmas advertisement featuring a Muslim family but no Christians celebrating the holiday. Tesco said the adverts aim to promote diversity.
December 3. The All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames held a joint birthday celebration for Jesus and Mohammed. The “Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration” was aimed at “marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus.” The hour-long service included time for Islamic prayer and was followed by the cutting of a birthday cake. The prominent Christian blog “Archbishop Cranmer” rebuked the church for its lack of discernment: “Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet ‘Prophet,’ they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith.”
December 14. The British government refused to say whether telling people about Christianity could be a hate crime. Lord Pearson of Rannoch said that when he raised a question on the issue in the House of Lords, the government failed to state clearly whether Christians can be prosecuted just for stating their beliefs. Speaking to Premier Christian Radio, Lord Pearson said the refusal to comment was “pretty unique” and “makes one very worried.” He also said there is a double standard in how hate crime laws are applied to Christianity and Islam: “You can say what you like about the Virgin Birth, the miracles and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but as soon as you say, ‘come on, is Islam really the religion of peace that it claims to be,’ all hell breaks loose.”
December 21. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, a parliamentary group composed of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, issued a report, “A Very Merry Muslim Christmas,” aimed at drawing attention to the “humanity” of Muslims during Christmas.
December 22. Scotland’s International Development Minister, Alasdair Allan, pledged nearly £400,000 ($535,000) to fund 23 events for ethnic minorities during the winter months. He described them as “key dates in our national calendar” and said the “exciting and diverse” program would help Scots “celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months.” None of the events, however, had any connection to Christmas.
• Full story at the Gatestone Institute.