This section will provide an overview of theMuslim immigration and understand the motivation of migrants to settle in theBritain. According to 2011 census, Ali (2011) reports that Muslims form 4.8% ofoverall population in Britain, and the population has dramatically increased from 1.55 millionto 2.71 million in the Britain between 2001 and 2011. Nevertheless, Muslimpopulation is ethnically diverse.
The largest ethnic category is Asian, which comprises1.83 million of 2.71 million, and about 32% non-Asian, which includes smallparts of white Muslim and Black & Minority Ethnic Muslim. 76% of the Muslimpopulation live in inner city areas such as London, West Midlands, the NorthWest and Yorkshire and Humberside (Ali, 2011). In the 18th century, there was a major technicalinnovation shift from sail to steam vessels in the trading-shipping industry.
This was the most profound impact on Muslim settlement in Britain, as it iscreated numerous jobs vacancies for them. However, the jobs were hot, dirty andtiring, and labour of this type was normally rejected by European White workers(Gilliat-Ray, 2010). Therefore, workers fromformer colonies with rich experience in merchant shipping traditions were drawnand preferred for this industry. A noteworthy aspect of this process was thatthere were significant numbers of Muslim soldiers who fought for Britishfreedom in the World War I and the World War II (Lockley, 2017). There are many theories related to migration. Inthis part, ‘push-pull’ theory and ‘networks theory’ is applied to the historyof Muslim settlement in Britain after World War II.
‘Push and pull’ theory explains that people leave a country of origin dueto lack of the economic opportunities, religious or political unrest. Migrants are attracted towardsdestination countries where there are more job opportunities, demand for labourand political freedom. The Second World War resulted in massive destruction andsevere labour shortages in the UK (Barbera, 2015). On the other hand, theeconomic boom and the rapid development of manufacturingindustry provided an abundance of opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilledworkers to work in the metropolitan manufacturing cities such as Manchester,Birmingham and Bradford (Gilliat-Ray, 2010). The domestic labour scarcity broughta new pattern of Muslim settlement in the UK. Barbera (2015) states that atthat time, the government encouraged immigration from the New Commonwealth countries.
The evidence shows large-scale immigration of Muslims from the Indiansubcontinent, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They spread cross inBritain (London, the West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire, Scotland andWales). ‘Network theory’ explains how migrants createsocial connection with other family and migrants back in their homeland. Thesenetworks encourage and facilitate migration (Kalra, 2000). These communities were searching for a better qualityof life because of the economic decline in their home countries. The statistics showed that they could earn anincome 30 times greater in the UK compared with in their homeland (BBC, 2009).
However, the majority of Muslim migrants left their families behind, so theysent most of their income ‘back home’ to support their families (Gilliat-Ray,2010). They were settling in areas where the textiles industry as well as otherexpanding trades demanded labour. Noteworthy was that once the migrationprocess began, relatives and friends were encouraged to follow.
This processwas slowly accelerated as social networks reformed.They were limited in theirability to access education and job opportunities, as well as higher qualityhousing and health services. Ethnic minorities tend to have a large family sizeand live close to each other to for maintain their family, social, andcommunity structure. In termsof the ethnic minorities working circumstances, Abbas and Ijaz (2009) statethat the migrants were placed at the bottom of the labour market due to littleeducation and linguistic barriers and as a result, their options were limited.Lawless (1977) states that based on the religious stratification, different jobswere, at times, assigned to different ethnic groups.
For example, Muslims workedin the engine rooms on ships, whereas Hindus would be allocated into the decksand Christians would be distributed in the saloon. Clearly, Muslim wereassigned more arduous work and worked in poor condition, but they gainedconsiderably less financial rewards than their British counterparts. Statisticsshowed that they only gain one-third or one-quarter those of a British nativeworker (Lawless, 1997). Given these circumstances, itis hard for them to be upwardly mobile. As a result, Abbas and Ijaz noted that Muslimsexperienced a high degree of disrespect, prejudice, racism and discriminationby their host society. In the 1960s, British members of Parliament Enoch Powell criticised themass immigration. In 1962, his speech “Rivers of Blood” was strongly againstthe influx of ‘coloured’ (both Muslim and non-Muslim) to the England, becausethey were ‘incapable of ordinary and decent family life’ (Ward, 2004). In1968, Powell declared that Indian and Asian babies born in the UK were notBritish.
He worried that the migrants will have the whip hand over the white man (Ward, 2004). The Labour governmentconsidered the migrants as ‘aliens’ rather than British citizens. Therefore,Miles (1989) states that the Labour government reduced the immigration labourinflow to Britain to meet political concerns. This was in response to the British NationalityAct, passed in 1948. The Act created the status of “Citizen of the UnitedKingdom and Colonies” (CUKC) as the national citizenship of the UK and itscolonies.