How many Muslims are there in Britain?
The US-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published estimates of the Muslim population of each country in Western Europe in 2010.
Pew’s UK figure for 2010 is 2,869,000, which is equivalent to 4.6% of the population. In absolute terms, according to Pew, the UK has the third largest Muslim community in Europe, after Germany (4,119,000) and France (3,574,000).
In percentage terms, the UK is in ninth position, after Belgium (6.0%), France, Austria and Switzerland (5.7% each), the Netherlands (5.5%), Germany (5.0%), Sweden (4.9%) and Greece (4.7%). UK Muslims account for 16.8% of all Muslims in Western Europe.
The 2010 UK statistic represents an increase of 74.2% on the 1,647,000 (2.7% of the population) which Pew quoted as recently as last October, in its report Mapping the Global Muslim Population (pp. 22, 32, 54).
That earlier figure was primarily based on the 2001 census, which was the first reliable measure of UK Muslim numbers, earlier estimates having been ethnically derived. No explanation (nor source) for the revised estimate is given by Pew, but doubtless all will be explained in another report to be published shortly. The 2001 census figures were thought to have been a serious underestimate of the numbers, despite efforts to get Muslims to register on the census schedule.
The Government’s Labour Force Survey estimated the number to be 1,870,000 for 2004, a figure which rose to 2,422,000 for 2008.
Another Government source, the Citizenship Survey, which covers those aged 16 and over in England and Wales, reveals that the proportion of Muslims in the population doubled between 2001 and 2008–09, from 2% to 4%. Four-fifths of Muslims at the latter date claimed to be practising their faith, compared with 37% of all adults professing a religion and 32% of Christians.