"The Muslim population of Britain reached 3.4 million in 2014 to become around 5.3% of the overall population of 64 million, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe. In real terms, Britain has the third-largest Muslim population in the European Union, after France and Germany.
Islam and Islam-related issues were omnipresent in Britain during 2014, and can be categorized into four broad themes: 1) Islamic extremism and the security implications of British jihadists in Syria; 2) the continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain; 3) the sexual exploitation of British children by Muslim gangs; and 4) Muslim integration into British society.
What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories involving the rise of Islam in Britain during 2014."
Kern's report is required reading, but it is so extensive that in this post, I will just provide a couple of key quotes for every month of the year:
"...In January, an analysis of census data showed that nearly 10% of the babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim. The percentage of Muslims among children under five is almost twice as high as in the general population. By way of comparison, fewer than one in 200 people over the age of 85 are Muslim, an indication of the extent to which the birth rate is changing the religious demographic in Britain.
On January 16, a Muslim woman was arrested by counter-terrorism police at Heathrow Airport as she was preparing to board a flight to Turkey. Nawal Masaad, 26, is accused of trying to smuggle £16,500 ($27,000; €20,000) in her underwear to jihadists in Syria. She and her alleged co-conspirator, Amal El-Wahabi, 27—a Moroccan who does not work and claims British social welfare benefits for herself and two young sons—were the first British women to be charged with terrorism offenses linked to the conflict in Syria.
In Bristol, the city council approved a controversial plan to convert a former comedy club into a mosque. In Cambridgeshire, a Muslim group submitted plans to convert a warehouse into a new mosque. In Cambridge, locals opposed a plan to build a £17.5 million ($28.5 million; €21 million) mega-mosque, claiming it could be "a front for terrorism." In Blackburn, home to nearly 100 mosques, city councilors were urged to reject a plan to open a mosque in a residential neighborhood.
Also in January, a Muslim extremist who hacked a soldier to death on a London street in May 2013, launched a taxpayer-funded appeal against his murder conviction. Michael Adebolajo, 29, who tried to behead the British soldier Lee Rigby with a meat cleaver, maintained that he should not have been convicted because he is a "soldier of Allah" and therefore Rigby's killing was an act of war rather than premeditated murder..."
"...On February 16, The Sunday Times reported that about 250 British jihadists who went to train and fight in Syria had returned to the UK and were being monitored by the security services. Senior officials said the high number of "returnees"—five times the figure that had been previously reported—underlined the growing danger posed by "extremist tourists" going to the war-torn region. MI5 and police said they feared that "returnees" could be preparing a Mumbai-style gun attack on civilians, possibly in a crowded public place in London.
In February, official statistics showed that net immigration to the United Kingdom surged to 212,000 in the year ending September 2013, a significant increase from 154,000 in the previous year. The new immigration data cast doubt on a pledge by Prime Minister David Cameron to get net migration—the difference between the number of people entering Britain and those leaving—down to the "tens of thousands" before the general election in May 2015.
Separately, data released by the National Crime Agency showed a 155% rise in British children groomed by sex gangs during 2013..."
"... On March 13, the Law Society, the main professional association representing and governing the legal profession in England and Wales, issued ground-breaking guidance to help lawyers draft Sharia-compliant wills and estate planning documents. The move effectively enshrined Islamic Sharia law in the British legal system for the first time..."
"...In April, the British government launched a public consultation on whether or not to introduce student loans that are compliant with Islamic Sharia law, which forbids loans that involve the payment of interest.
Critics said that the dispute over interest-bearing student loans follows stepped-up demands for Sharia-compliant banking and insurance as well as credit cards, mortgages and pension funds, which—taken together—are contributing to the establishment of parallel Islamic financial and legal systems in Britain.
Separately, Lloyds Bank was accused of reverse religious discrimination after dropping overdraft fees for Muslims but not for others. The bank said that non-Muslims would have to pay up to £80 (€97, $135) a month for an overdraft, but that for Muslims "there won't be any charges."
Meanwhile, the fast food giant Subway removed ham and bacon from almost 200 outlets in Britain and switched to halal (Arabic for "permitted" or "lawful") meat alternatives, apparently in an attempt to please its Muslim customers...."
"... In May, a senior adviser to Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of the heavily Islamized London Borough of Tower Hamlets, threatened Muslim riots unless people stop questioning the manner of his re-election. Rahman narrowly won re-election on May 23 as an independent, but the result was cast into doubt amid dozens of reports of voter intimidation and a chaotic count that took more than five days to declare a final result. Rahman was expelled from the Labour Party in 2010 after The Telegraph revealed his close links to an Islamic extremist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
On May 7, Pizza Express, a British restaurant chain, revealed that halal meat was being used in all of its chicken dishes in all of its 434 restaurants across the UK. Under Islamic law, chicken can only be eaten if the bird's throat has been slit while it is still alive. A Koranic verse is also recited during the ritual. On May 15, it emerged that at least a dozen top universities, including Oxford University, have been secretly serving halal meat to unsuspecting students..."
"... In June, Tablighi Jamaat, a radical Islamic group committed to "perpetual jihad" to spread Islam around the world, edged one step closer to building one of the world's largest mosques in London after a star Muslim opponent of the controversial project was intimidated into silence. The proposed mega-mosque would be built on a 16-acre site near the Olympic Stadium, and would have a capacity for more than 9,000 worshippers.
On June 25, Britain became the first Western nation to issue Islamic bonds, completing a plan that was more than seven years in the making. Investors placed £2.3 billion ($3.9 billion) of orders, more than 11 times the amount of bonds on offer.
On June 24, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said that a Sharia-compliant alternative to the conventional student loan could become available in the UK beginning in 2016. He said: "It would be a tragedy if any student, particularly a Muslim student because of concerns about so-called interest rates, were put off from going to university." He added: "This does not mean we are introducing Sharia law in the UK."
On June 6, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) admitted that non-Muslim soldiers are unknowingly being fed halal meat on military bases..."
"... On July 8, Lord Richard Scott, a former British Supreme Court judge, called on Christians to marry Muslims to tackle Islamophobia. He said:
"Of my two sons one has become a Muslim and of my two daughters one of those has become a Muslim, and I have 12 lovely grandchildren, seven of whom are little Muslims.
"The family relationships since those events took place have been as happily familial, as close and as good as any parent or grandparent could wish.
"I do just wonder that if an improvement is needed between the faith groups, one way of promoting that might be to encourage interfaith marriages."
"... In August, data released by the Office of National Statistics [ONS] showed that Mohammed was the most popular given to boys born in Britain in 2013. Although the ONS claimed that Oliver was the top name with 6,949 boys, it was in fact Mohammed when the top three spellings for the name (Muhammad, 3,499; Mohammed, 2,887 and Mohammad, 1,059) are combined to yield 7,445 boys.
On August 26, Alexis Jay, the leader of an independent inquiry in the sexual abuse of children in Rotherham, released a horrifying report that found that gangs of mainly Muslim men of Pakistani heritage had groomed, terrorized and abused at least 1,400 girls, some as young as 11, in Rotherham over a 16-year period between 1997 and 2013...."
"... On September 3, eight Muslim men were charged with sexually abusing girls under the age of 16. The charges followed series of police raids involving 120 officers in the Thames Valley. On September 9, five Muslim men went on trial in Sheffield, accused of trafficking a 13-year-old girl for sex.
On September 10, the government announced that Muslim students will be offered Sharia-compliant interest free student loans in an effort to get more Islamic pupils to go to university.
In September, a customer at a Leicester branch of KFC was refused a hand-wipe as it might offend Muslims. Graham Noakes, 41, said staff at the fast food chain's outlet in St George's retail park refused to give him a hand-wipe because it was against its halal policy. Staff said this was because the wipes are soaked in an alcohol-infused liquid and alcohol is forbidden in the Koran.
In October, a 75-year-old retiree was arrested for "racism" after saying "I'm not Muslim" when he was asked to remove his shoes at security at Stansted Airport. Paul Griffith was charged with causing "racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress."
"... On October 16, a new report showed that in just six months, nearly 2,000 women and girls in England were treated by the National Health Service after undergoing female genital mutilation [FGM]. In September alone, 467 female patients in England were newly identified as having been subjected to FGM. The data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre [HSCIC] were the first official figures to have been published on the numbers of FGM cases seen in hospitals in England.
On October 30, a new study found that child sexual exploitation has become "the social norm" in many parts of Greater Manchester. The report—Real Voices, Child Sexual Exploitation In Greater Manchester—estimated that nearly 650 children reported missing in towns across Greater Manchester in 2014 were at risk of child sexual exploitation or serious harm. But despite almost 13,000 reports of child sex abuse in the past six years, only about 1,000 people have been convicted. The report's author—Labour MP Ann Coffey—was criticized for failing to address the fact that many street grooming gangs are made up of Muslim men. She said it would be "wrong" to focus on "Asian" gangs targeting teenage girls...."
"... On November 11, the new Muslim owner of the exclusive Bermondsey Square Hotel in London abruptly banned alcohol and pork from the bar and grill at the hotel, in order to run it "in accordance with Sharia law." The £220 ($340)-a-night hotel is believed to be one of the first in the UK to introduce the strict Muslim policy, but staff said the changes have caused business to plummet, with many reservations cancelled.
Also on November 11, it was reported that thousands of Muslim school children in East Lancashire were being offered a pork-based vaccine as part of a major new flu immunization program. The new nasal spray, which is made with gelatin derived from pigs, is part of a pilot project, but Muslim leaders complained that the decision not to offer an alternative was "outrageous" because they consider the spray to be 'haram' or sinful. Public Health England, which is leading the project, said in a statement: "There is no suitable alternative to [the porcine-based] Fluenz [vaccine]."
On November 13, police in Manchester arrested 13 members of human trafficking gang after a pregnant woman was duped into travelling to England before being sold into a sham Sharia law marriage. The 20-year-old Slovakian woman, who was 25 weeks pregnant, was tricked into flying to Luton airport in May believing that she would be able to meet her sister. After meeting a man at the airport who claimed to be her sister's friend, however, she was taken to an address in Oldham. She then discovered that she had been sold to a Muslim man who had paid the gang £15,000 (€19,000; $23,000) to provide her a sham marriage. Police say the purpose of the marriage, which took place under a Sharia ceremony in Rochdale in July, was to improve the man's chances of avoiding deportation from the UK...."
"... On December 11, the House of Lords held debates on female genital mutilation [FGM] and the "impact of Sharia Law on the United Kingdom." Lord Faulks, Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy, cited research that "revealed that approximately 60,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK." In the following debate, Baroness Cox said: "The establishment of Sharia courts or councils in this country has promoted the application of gender-discriminatory provisions in ways which are currently causing considerable distress for many women." She also asked why "polygamy is allowed to flourish" in Britain even though bigamy is illegal.
Finally, December saw the launch of the faceless "Deeni Doll," (deeni is Arabic for "faith") which is adorned with a traditional hijab headdress, but has no nose, mouth, or eyes, in order to comply with Islamic rulings regarding the depictions of facial features. The toy, which retails for £25 ($40), was designed by a former teacher at a Muslim school in Lancashire. She said:
"I came up with the idea from scratch after speaking to some parents who were a little concerned about dolls with facial features. Some parents won't leave the doll with their children at night because you are not allowed to have any eyes in the room. There is an Islamic ruling which forbids the depiction of facial features of any kind and that includes pictures, sculptures and, in this case, dolls."
Happy thoughts to you.