Muslims in Scotland: Demographic, social and cultural characteristics

…. Several indicators evidence the relatively smooth integration of Muslims in Scotland. The community’s small numbers and the lack of ethno-religious clustering, save for Pollokshields and Govanhill in Glasgow, have facilitated contact between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Pakistanis, many of whom originally migrated from the well-off area of Faisalabad in Punjab, have also preferred self-employment, therefore not competing for public services in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, they stayed away from major troubles.

The Rushdie Affair-related disturbances in 1988-89 and the 2001 and 2011 English riots were not mirrored by similar violent action in Scotland. At the same time, clashes between South Asians and white people (e.g. in Pollokshields in 2003) did not reach the levels of riots in English cities, such as Birmingham, Bradford and Burnley.

The sectarian tensions that have historically gnawed at the relationship between Catholics and Protestants, and predated the settlement of the majority of the South Asian community, have partly cushioned other religious minorities (including Muslims) from more serious prejudice.

Similarly, neo-fascist and racist groups, including their more recent manifestations in the form of the Scottish Defence League, have never gained a foothold, thus reducing the space for anti-Muslim populist discourse.

[COMMENT] I’m a Scot who has lived in England for more than 30 years. In fact, I live in Bolton in the North West of England so have good experience living in a town with an above average number of Muslims within the community (I do hate the term community).

The main difference between the Scottish and English experience is in the numbers of Muslims that are living in a number of towns, Bolton has 20%, Blackburn > 40% as is Bradford. Having moved from Scotland 30 years ago, I have seen a big change in the Muslim population.

These changes include the ghetto-isation with many areas in the town almost 100% made up of Muslim or a least Asian people. I believe that this is especially true of the less wealthy and poorer educated of the Muslim community. There has, in the past ten years, been a growth, in what I perceive to be, conservative Islam. This is denoted by the increase in the numbers of women wearing the hijab and niqab in public.

This is a form of cultural dress from the middle east and not from the Indian Sub-continent where the majority of British Muslims come from. I don’t know if these issues are a result of poor integration in Bolton, a rise in the numbers coming from rural areas of India/Pakistan or an increase in Mosque staff who preach the Wahabi/Salafist agenda to the Mosque attendees.

In any case, this is perceived by the rest of the community as a growing parallel society that does not want to integrate with the rest of the groups in the town (Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and the ever increasing numbers of atheists). [London School of Economics] Read more

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