Nearly one in ten children under the age of five in England and Wales now comes from a Muslim family, analysis of census figures has shown.
Out of 3.5 million children under five in the UK, 320,000 were identified as Muslim in the 2011 census.
The findings came from a breakdown of Britain’s religions by age group produced by the Office of National Statistics and reported by the Times.
Illustrating the impact of birth rate, the near 10 per cent proportion of children under five identified as Muslims is almost twice as high as the fraction of the general population that are Muslims, which stands at less than five per cent. In the over 85 bracket, just one in 200 were Muslim.
Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he “wouldn’t want our fellow citizens to be alarmed by an increase in number,” adding that British Muslims “feel very much this is their home”.
“It’s not about Britain becoming a Muslim country but about Britain enabling the practice of Islam, which gives confidence to the vast majority of Muslims. It’s a great country to regard as our home,” he said.
David Voas, Professor of Population Studies at the University of Essex said that although it was conceivable that practicing Muslims could one day outnumber practicing Christians in Britain, there is no prospect of Muslims becoming a majority.
Children from Christian families made up by far the biggest group of under fives, with 43 per cent at 1.5 million.
Oxford University demographics professor David Coleman said: “Continuing immigration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India has been added to by new immigration from African countries and from the Middle East.
“Birth rates of Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin remain quite high, although falling. There seem to be very low levels of falling away from religion among Muslims.”
Philip Lewis, author of Young, British and Muslim emphasised that there is a huge variety in the Muslim population across the country, including affluent Arabs in London and Turkish Cypriots.