Muslim woman (illustrative only)
Muslim woman (illustrative only)Israel news photo: Flash 90

A study conducted by Swansea University for the British group Faith Matters has found that UK citizens are increasingly interested in Islam, with the number of converts to Islam nearly doubling in 10 years. An estimated total of 100,000 have converted to Islam, 5,200 of them in 2010.

In 2001, it was estimated that 60,000 British citizens had converted to Islam.

Of the most recent converts, two-thirds are women. Most are white and native to Britain. The average age of new converts is 27.

One in four believe there is a “natural conflict” between being devoutly Muslim and being a British citizen. More than half said they had met with a negative response from family regarding their conversion.

When asked what they believe to be the negative aspects of British society, the converts cited alcohol consumption, “sexual permissiveness,” and “unrestrained consumerism.”

Similar studies in France and Germany found that approximately 4,000 people convert to Islam each year in both countries.

Faith Matters director Fiyaz Mughal said the precise number of converts to Islam is unknown, but that it is clear that the number has “risen dramatically” over the past decade. Converts could play an important role in both British and Muslim society by helping to reconcile the two worlds, and by “disentangling cultural norms... which blur the true essence of Islam,” Mughal opined.

Britain has faced challenges integrating its Muslim population. A 2008 report showed that one-third of Muslim students justified killing in the name of religion, and a recent BBC report found that thousands of Muslim children in Britain are being taught to hate Jews, Israelis, and homosexuals.

In some cases British Muslims have actively fought Israel, by sending aid to Hamas in Gaza or by joining Hamas in Gaza.

In 2009 the government decided to combat homegrown Muslim terrorism with a program to screen Muslim schoolchildren for potential terrorists.