Last December the Open Society Institute (OSI) published Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities, deriving from its At Home in Europe Project. Now in a second edition (ISBN 978-1-936133-01-7), this is available for download at:
This document is a summation of research into the level and nature of integration of Muslims undertaken in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Leicester, London, Marseille, Paris, Rotterdam, and Stockholm.
The media headlines at the time were exemplified by the Sunday Times of 13 December: ‘UK Muslims are Europe’s Most Patriotic’. This referred to the fact that Leicester and London (Waltham Forest) had topped the list of Muslims identifying with their country of residence, 82% and 72% respectively, compared (at the other end of the scale) with 25% in Berlin and 22% in Hamburg.
OSI has now started to release the full reports on each individual city. Leicester and Berlin are the first to be made available in this way. Leicester is one of the most ethnically-diverse populations in the UK outside London, and it is predicted to become the country’s first ‘plural city’, with no overall ethnic majority. Muslims in Leicester (ISBN 978-1-936133-13-0) runs to 153 pages and is available to download at:
The Leicester report embodies a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research data, collected in the city (largely by the Policy Research Centre) between January and July 2008. The principal focus is three of Leicester’s 22 wards (Evington, Spinney Hills and Stoneygate), where 102 Muslims and 98 non-Muslims were interviewed. Six focus groups were also conducted there, and 31 experts/key stakeholders were interviewed across the city.
The core of the report explores the experiences of Muslim communities in Leicester from eight perspectives: identity, belonging and interaction; education; employment; housing; health; policing and security; participation and citizenship; and the role of the media. There is also a series of recommendations in these, and other, areas.
A key finding is that ‘the majority of Muslims in Leicester possess a strong British identity and sense of belonging to the city as well as the country, holding many values in common with non-Muslims’. While Muslims have a keen sense of religious allegiance, 82% see themselves as British and 70% want to be seen as British. However, 60% of Muslims do not feel that others view them as British.
75% of Muslims have a strong sense of belonging to Leicester (five points more than for non-Muslims). 56% also have confidence in the city council, in stark contrast to the 27% who say the same about the national government (twelve points less than among non-Muslims). 63% of Muslims have no or limited confidence in the government, compared with 54% of non-Muslims. Similarly, while 37% of non-Muslims have trust in Parliament, this is true of just 25% of Muslims, 62% having no or limited confidence.
Approximately half of both Muslims and non-Muslims believe that there is significant racial discrimination in the UK and over 70% that there is a fair amount of religious prejudice, which is said to have increased over the past five years.