Islamic jurisprudence is spreading throughout Britain at an astonishing rate. At least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in the country, almost 20 times as many as previously believed. A recent think tank study titled "Sharia Law or One Law for All" found that scores of unofficial tribunals and councils, may operating in mosques, regularly apply Islamic law to resolve domestic, marital and business disputes.
The study warns of a "creeping" acceptance of Sharia principles in British law, and follows the outcry over remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who had said that Sharia law in Britain is "unavoidable."
The emergence of a parallel Muslim society in Britain and the failure or refusal of many Muslim immigrants to integrate is troubling millions of British voters.
It is also increasing the political pressure on British Prime Minister David Cameron -- who delivered a keynote speech on immigration to members of his Conservative Party in Hampshire on April 14 -- to crack down on widespread abuses of the immigration system, particularly abuses that involve forced or sham marriages, bogus students, dodgy colleges or dubious work permits.
Cameron also takes aim at immigration fraud. He addresses the abuse of student visas, by far the biggest route for non-EU immigrants into Britain -- he said: "Immigration by students has almost trebled in the past decade. Last year, some 303,000 visas were issued overseas for study in the UK. But this isn't the end of the story. Because a lot of those students bring people with them to this country: husbands, wives, children…we know that some of these student applications are bogus, and in turn their dependents are bogus. Consider this: a sample of 231 visa applications for the dependents of students found that only twenty-five percent of them were genuine dependents. The whole system [is] out of control and we're now getting to grips with it. That badly needs to be done."
The government will also begin targeting bogus colleges that offer sham courses. Cameron said: "We're making sure that anyone studying a degree-level course has a proper grasp of the English language. We're saying that only postgraduate students can bring dependents. And we're making sure that if people come over here to study, they should be studying rather than working, and that when they've finished their studies, they go home unless they are offered a graduate-level skilled job, with a minimum salary."
In recent years, there has grown up a thriving industry of bogus colleges, providing bogus qualifications as cover for bogus visas. According to the British government, of the 744 private colleges on the UK Border Agency Sponsor Register in January, only 131 had attained Highly Trusted Sponsor status. Yet, as of mid-January 2011, the 613 private colleges that are not Highly Trusted have been able to sponsor 280,000 students between them. "The potential for abuse is clearly enormous," Cameron said.
In one case, students were sent off to so-called work placements in locations up to 280 miles away from the college where they were supposed to be studying on a regular basis. In another, students were found working in 20 different locations and undertaking no study time whatsoever. In yet another case, there were 2 lecturers for 940 students.
By any measure, the Muslim population in Britain has skyrocketed over the past ten years. Based on official estimates, Britain's Muslim population has grown from 1.6 million in 2001 (when the British Census first began to measure religion) to 1,870,000 in 2004, to 2,422,000 in 2008, to 2,869,000 in 2010. That is an overall increase of more than 1.2 million, according to data compiled by the British government's Labour Force Survey (LFS), which were first published by the Times of London newspaper in January 2009, later confirmed by Hansard, the official report of debates in the British Parliament, and then updated by the Pew Research Center in September 2010.
In just two decades, the percentage of the British population born abroad has doubled to over 11%, according to the Office for National Statistics. In real terms, that amounts to nearly seven million immigrants, equal to the population of the City of London, or the equivalent of one immigrant every two minutes. This rate of inflow is 25 times higher than any previous period of immigration since the Norman Conquest of England in September 1066. Demographers forecast that at current trends, Britain's population will exceed 70 million in less than twenty years, with almost all of that increase being driven by immigration. This would turn Britain into the most crowded country in Europe. According to a recent "Citizenship Survey," 77% of those polled said immigration should be cut, with slightly more than half saying it should be reduced "by a lot."
The Cross Party Group for Balanced Migration, a bi-partisan group that is attempting to protect and re-establish a sense of British national identity, has called for all parties in Britain to commit to keeping the population below 70 million. In January 2010, Cameron told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One (here, here and here) that the population of Britain should be kept below 70 million "to relieve pressure on public services." He made those remarks after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, called for immigration caps to protect Britain's Christian ethos.
In other words, Britain's Muslim population has multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society over the past decade, while the number of Christians in the country has dropped by more than two million during the same period. Demographers expect that trend to continue. A new study titled "The Future of the Global Muslim Population" forecasts that Britain's Muslim population will double to 5.5 million within the next 20 years.
As Britain's Muslim population grows, British society is being transformed in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. For example, Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys in Britain. And the number of mosques in Britain (1,689) has grown to almost the number of Anglican churches (1,700) that have recently been closed.
In his Hampshire speech, Cameron unambiguously promised to cut the number of immigrants entering Britain from non-European Union (EU) countries from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. In more specific terms, whereas some 200,000 non-EU immigrants have entered Britain every year over the past decade, Cameron has for the first time ever placed an annual immigration cap of 20,700 visas for non-EU workers during 2011.
According to Cameron, there are some 155,000 illegal immigrants claiming welfare benefits in Britain. (Research conducted by the London School of Economics estimates that there may be more than 600,000 illegal immigrants living in Britain.) "That's wrong -- and we're stopping it. We're making sure that only people who have the right to work here can claim benefits," Cameron said.
In his speech, Cameron said: "For a start there are forced marriages taking place in our country and overseas, as a means of gaining entry to the UK. This is the practice where some young British girls are bullied and threatened into marrying someone they don't want to. I've got no time for those who say this is a culturally relative issue -- frankly it is wrong, full stop, and we've got to stamp it out."
He continued: "But as well as abuse of the system, there are other problems with what's called the family route. We know, for instance, that some marriages take place when the spouse is very young, and has little or no grasp of English. Again I don't believe we should allow cultural sensitivity to stop us from acting. That's why last November we introduced a requirement for all those applying for a marriage visa to demonstrate a minimum standard of English, and we will defend the age limit of 21 for spouses coming to the UK."
Cameron criticized the previous Labour government's "open door" policy, which resulted in some three million foreigners being added to Britain's population roster during the past decade. Cameron said: "For too long, immigration has been too high. Between 1997 and 2009, 2.2 million more people came to live in this country than left to go and live abroad. That is the largest influx of people that Britain has ever had and it has placed real pressures on communities up and down our country."
Although Cameron did not mention the taboo topics of Muslims or Islam in his Hampshire speech, it was clear to all Britons that his comments were directed at the growing concern about uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries. Britain, said Cameron, will begin to promote "good immigration instead of mass immigration."
Cameron recently said that multiculturalism has been responsible for fostering Islamist extremism in the United Kingdom; he has now pledged to dramatically reduce immigration to Britain from non-European countries.
"Europe," he said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference 2011 on February 5, "needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries."