Terror fears since the Sept. 11 attacks and Madrid bombings have subject the Muslim community to police raids and mistrust
The United Kingdom has long considered itself a nation of immigration and has one of the world's most diverse populations. About 2.34 million of its nearly 59 million residents are foreigners. Many of the country's immigrant residents came from its former colonies, like India and Pakistan. In recent years, there has been large-scale immigration of Muslims from the Middle East as well as refugees from the Balkans. Due to its former ties to the Asian Subcontinent, a high percentage of its Muslim population speaks English. Britain has a comprehensive immigration policy and also bans discrimination - both religious and racial - in important areas like employment, education, housing and welfare. According to a recent European Commission report, Britain is soon planning to open its doors to a new wave of immigrants needed to fill jobs in the blue collar labor market. Anyone born in the U.K. is automatically a citizen, and naturalization for newcomers is possible after five years. In
The British view themselves as a multicultural society
contrast to many continental European countries that are pursuing assimilation policies, the British view themselves as a multicultural society and generally support the further development of the diverse cultures represented in the country.
There are still some rough patches. Academic achievement levels are often lower among immigrant groups, and the fastest-growing population in the prison system is Muslim immigrants. In the wake of Sept. 11, religious discrimination has also risen - especially against Muslims. Since then, the country has upgraded its laws to protect against "religiously aggravated" crimes, and the government has shown its intent of enforcement. Nonetheless, "implementation of anti-terrorism legislation has created a growing perception in Muslim communities that they are being stopped, questioned and searched not on the basis of the evidence but on the basis of 'looking Muslim,'" the report found.