Population - Ethnicity

British born Muslims represented the lion share in 2001 and may represent over two thirds of all Muslims in the Census 2011.

  Pakistani 43.2%
  Bangladeshi 16.5%
  Indian 8.3%
  Other Asian 5.8%
  White British 4.0%
  Other White 7.4%
  Black African 6.1%
  Mixed 4.1%
  Other Ethnic Group 3.8%
  Unaccounted 0.8%

Muslims of a Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin account for 62% of Muslims, and combined with other Asian groups make up three quarters of British Muslims. But, a significant remaining one quarter are non-Asian, and from diverse backgrounds; at least 11.4% are categorised as one or other category of “White” by the Census 2001.

At least 46% of Britain’s Muslims were born in Britain, and this represents the lion share of the many countries of birth. Although the largest ethnic group of British Muslims are Pakistani (43.2%) a much lower 17.9% were born in Pakistan. This indicates a maturity of a migratory pattern that is rooted in the late 1950s to mid 1960s, where migrants of that period now have third generation grandchildren and even fourth generation great-grandchildren, yet where strong family ties are maintained and cherished by many.

The Census 2011 has seen a number of questions and, in some cases, concerted community campaigns for introducing a specific tick box in the ethnic category. The 2005 earthquake in Kashmir highlighted the large number of (mainly but not solely Muslim) citizens of Kashmiri heritage, the majority of whom would be classified as Pakistani. In view of the Census 2011, official research was conducted and concluded to have a tick box for a Kashmiri ethnicity, which can be read here.

The new Arab ethnic category will give us a clearer picture, but could confuse the Somali ethnic count.

Arab Ethnicity

One notable change in the Census 2011 will the inclusion of an ‘Arab’ ethnicity, along with a Gypsy/Romany and an Irish Traveller ethnicity, and will be placed within the general ‘other’ where the Chinese ethnicity was positioned in the Census 2001 for England and Wales (but not Scotland). Chinese will join the Asian or Asian British section in 2011 across Great Britain, which means that the overall count for Asians in England and Wales will be boosted by the addition of a new group when compared to 2001.

The inclusion of Arab will help refine the British Muslim picture as many Arabic speaking British citizens who are Muslim, as well as many who are not, could not find an appropriate category, and selecting from 3 or 4 near matches (including White British). The pressure to include a separate Arab ethnicity has come from different groups, including some Somali groups, and this may lead to challenges in accurately sizing citizens of Somali heritage. Such respondents will have to choose between Arab as a linguistic choice and Black African as a geographical and/or racial choice. Moreover, because of such community drives to get Somalis more noticed, it is likely Somali responses under the Black section will be split between African and Other Black.

11.4% of Britain’s Muslims identified themselves as ethnically ‘white’
Census 2001
© Crown Copyright. Source data has been derived from ONS Census 2001, unless otherwise stated.