OPINION: The Luton Warning Or Why We Cannot Ignore The Islam Issue
1981 was the year before Tommy Robinson was born in Luton. It was also the year before the foundation stone for one of the first purpose-built mosques in Britain was laid in the town. The Census for 1981 recorded that the population of Luton then was 163,208.
By the time of the 2001 Census, Luton’s population had risen to 184,371. The Muslim community was 26,963 (14.62%). The Christian community at that time was 109,973 (59.65%). The White British population was 119,793 (64.97%).
The Census for 2011 shows Luton’s population as 203,201, an increase of 10.21% on 2001. The Muslim community showed an 85.41% increase of 23,028 to 49,991 (24.60%) The Christian population showed a 12.27% decrease of 13,702 to 96,271 (47.38%). The White British population showed a 20.42% decrease of 29,263 to 90,530 (44.55%). There are now, I believe, about 26 or more mosques in Luton.
The obvious trend of those figures is disturbing enough in itself. The statistic that, by 2011, 50,000 Muslims were factually a quarter of the population of Luton, indicates a huge transformation in the native, historically primarily Christian, culture of a substantial Bedfordshire town.
Of course, many Muslims have integrated with, and become beneficial members of the Luton community. Those Muslims are patently not the problem. Indeed, I earnestly hope they will be part of the solution.
The disturbing aspect of the growth of the Muslim community in Luton is that their impact is different from that of the communities of the other religious faiths that have come to the town over the years. Whereas other communities have integrated with, and dispersed widely amongst, the Luton area, the Muslim community has not.
In Luton, as in so many other towns, the Muslim community as a whole, far from integrating, has formed an enclave. My computer dictionary defines an enclave as being ‘a portion of territory surrounded by a larger territory whose inhabitants are culturally or ethnically distinct’. The Luton enclave is clearly illustrated in the graphic below:
The two darkest areas of green, and arguably even the third, indicate where the Muslim community presents as a significant majority (over 70% in some areas) of the residents. Using the arrows to the left or right of the graphic allows comparison with the residential distribution of other ethnic and religious communities within Luton. I think the differences are apparent.
In addition, a troubling feature of the Muslim community in Luton has been that it has historically included militant factions supporting fundamental Islam. In March 2017, The Times reported:
‘Luton has long been known as a hotbed of extremism. It was the base for Anjem Choudary’s banned extremist group and has spawned a string of terrorists.’
Stacey Dooley MBE, the documentary maker who won the Strictly Come Dancing competition just before Christmas, was born in Luton. I think her video of 2013, entitled ‘My Hometown Fanatics’ and reflecting the situation then, was, to say the least, disturbing and thought provoking.
If the 2001 – 2011 percentage changes were to be replicated during the subsequent decade then the 2021 Census would be expected to show a Luton population of 223,948. The Muslim population would rise by 42,697 to 92,688 (41.39%) and the Christian population would decrease by 11,996 to 84,275 (37.63%). The White British population would decrease by 22,116 to 68,414 (30.55%).
Now these figures are straightforward extrapolations of previous trends with all the caveats entailed by that. It is also difficult to estimate the impact that ‘White flight’ will continue to have on the future demographic statistics for Luton.
However, it should be said that the Office for National Statistics estimates for the Luton population in 2017, as being 214,700, place it as directly on course for a similar overall increase of approximately 10% between 2011 and 2021. Will the demographic trends also continue? In time the 2021 census should tell us.
In many areas of our country, particularly in rural regions, the Muslim community is a very small percentage of the population. Understandably I suppose, people in those areas may feel that there is little problem with Muslim immigration, or the authoritarian political and legal nature of the religion of Islam.
They may dismiss the people who live with, and warn about, the realities of these matters as being ‘obsessed with Islam’ or, equally insultingly and mindlessly, as ‘Islamophobic’.
Perhaps they do not know what’s happening in Luton; or in Leicester; or in Slough; or in London, Birmingham, Blackburn or Bradford; or in Brussels, Paris, Stockholm and many other cities in Europe and elsewhere.
I wonder, will they ever heed the Luton warning? And if, or when, they do, will it then be too late?
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