Amal’s work matters because the problem we are addressing – prejudice and discrimination against Muslims that stems in large part from a negative dominant narrative – adversely affects the lives of every Muslim in the UK.
This is not a small-scale problem. There are millions of Muslims in the UK. They are the UK’s largest minority and, collectively, they are in the worst socio-economic position of any group. The prejudice they face is both racialised (around 90% of Muslims are people of colour) and based on widespread misunderstanding of their faith. It holds them back in every walk of life. It is unjust to them and also an impediment to greater social harmony in the UK. It is crucial you join us in addressing this challenge. We need your support to help change the narrative to one that is confident, diverse and just.
The scale of the communities impacted
There are 3.9m Muslims in England and Wales, making up 6.5% of the population. There are significantly greater numbers of Muslims than of any other minority and, as Muslims have the youngest age profile in the UK, these numbers will grow. Most Muslims live in urban areas where their share of the population is much higher. For example, some 15% of the population of London is Muslim, 30% of Birmingham and 30.5% of Bradford.
Muslims in UK
of the UK is Muslim
of Birmingham is Muslim
of Bradford is Muslim
The socio-economic position of Muslims
Research by the Social Mobility Commission has shown that Muslims experience the greatest economic disadvantages of any group in UK society. They are more likely than non-Muslims to experience neighbourhood deprivation, housing, educational and health disadvantage, and unemployment. The Commission concluded that there was “a broken social mobility promise” for young Muslims where educational success did not translate into good labour market outcomes. The latest census shows that 39% of Muslims live in the most deprived areas of the country.
A 2022 study by Birmingham University shows that the British public feels much more negatively towards Muslims than it does towards any group except Gypsy and Irish Travellers. As the report on a definition of Islamophobia of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims states: “Across policy domains, from employment, education and criminal justice to housing, healthcare and hate crime, Islamophobia has a significant negative impact on the life chances and quality of life enjoyed by British Muslims.”
A relentlessly negative narrative
Muslims have faced relentless political, media and policy scrutiny, much of it negative. Another University of Birmingham study revealed that between 1996 and 2006 media coverage of Muslims increased by 270% and 91% of the stories were negative. This has contributed to increases in Islamophobia, extremism and a disconnect between Muslims and others in Britain. For many non-Muslims, their experience of Muslims is mediated by media representation which remains negative, monolithic, and stereotyping.
Changing the narrative
The UK’s Muslims are now around 50% British-born and are increasingly navigating their way in our society to success in public life and in the professions. They represent the latest chapter in a long history of mutual enrichment between Muslim and other cultures. If British Muslims can build their social and cultural capital, we can expect them to make a growing contribution to the success of the United Kingdom. But to do so the narrative must change - to one that is confident, diverse and just - so that Muslims can realise their potential unimpeded by barriers created by discrimination. This is what Amal is supporting Muslims to do.
Jameela Khan - An emerging playwright reflects on her journey
“Jameela feels incredibly proud of Bird in the Window. Her support from Amal and the development of the piece helped her work out how to accomplish what she wanted.”
The purpose of this report is to help shed light on the extent and nature of Islamophobia in the UK. We ask what it is, show how widespread it is, and provide one answer to the complex question of why, when compared with most other forms of prejudice, Islamophobia attracts so little public censure.
The inclusion of the question on religious affiliation for the first time in the 2001 Census of England and Wales was a landmark event and an achievement made possible because of a sustained effort by an alliance of faith groups. For Muslim communities in particular, it was an issue of strategic importance, opening the door for formal recognition of a section of British society hitherto statistically invisible.
There has been a Muslim presence in Britain for several centuries, and for even longer the arts and architecture of Western Europe, as also European science, mathematics and philosophy, have been influenced by the Islamic world. It is only in the last thirty years, however, that there have been substantial numbers of British Muslim citizens, active in a wide range of professions and occupations in the public and private sectors of the economy and society.
Over the past two decades awareness of Islamophobia has increased, whether in terms of discrimination against Muslims, or in terms of public and policy discussion of it. Runnymede has produced this report, Islamophobia: Still a challenge for us all, to gather together the evidence on Islamophobia in Britain today, and to suggest how we should respond to it. This report is being published on the 20th anniversary of our initial report Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, which first brought the term to public and policy prominence, in Britain and indeed beyond. This edited volume updates and extends the evidence over the past 20 years in three main sections.
It is not just British Muslims who are impacted by Islamophobia. It is British society at large who, by virtue of normalised prejudice against Muslim beliefs and practice, come to imbibe a panoply of falsehoods or misrepresentations and, consequentially, discriminatory outlooks to the detriment of social harmony and social inclusion.
Research has shown that the media plays a fundamental role in the formulation and establishment of popular views and attitudes in society. So whilst no direct evidence exists to suggest that the media’s role causes Islamophobia or anti-Muslim hate, the media’s role cannot be entirely dismissed either given that it has the ability to shape and influence public attitudes that could create, feed into and subsequently justify Islamophobic and anti-Muslim attitudes and expressions.