A closer look at reports about the growth of Islam in the UK

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Two reports seem to suggest that Islam in the UK is growing faster than anyone realised. The first, published by Faith Matters, looks specifically at conversions to Islam, concluding that between 2001 and 2010 the number of British converts rose from 60,000 to 100,000. Meanwhile, a forthcoming US Pew Forum report estimates that the total number of UK Muslims is 2.9 million (4.6%) compared with 1.6 million (2.8%) in 2001.

The alarming increase of Islam, along with the marginalisation of Christianity, is the constant theme of the conservative media, a wearying vuvuzela drone, though doubtless intended as a trumpet blast.

It’s worth noting, first of all, that both these figures ought to be taken as provisional, writes Stephen Tomkins in The Guardian.

The 1.6 million UK Muslims of 2001 have gained 30,000 to 40,000 converts in a decade, so each lot of 400-533 Muslims has converted one person per year (even assuming the new converts didn’t join in the evangelisation). For a proselytising religion, that’s nothing to boast about.

It’s a growth rate of 2.5%, at which, the back of my fag packet tells me, it will take 280 years for their numbers to double to 8%. Not time to panic yet, Tomkins says.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 21, 2013