In England 40% of Muslims live in London where they make up 8. 5% of the population. There are also large numbers of Muslims in Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, Luton, Slough, Leicester and the mill towns of Northern England. 12 Muslims were the largest religious group after Christians. There were 1. 6 million Muslims living in Britain in 2001. This group comprised 3 per cent of the total population and over half (52 per cent) of the non-Christian religious population. 13 Religion was the only voluntary question on the census 8% of the population choose not to answer it.
The sharing and acknowledgement of ethnic cultures in schools has become the norm, with emphasis on inclusion whilst attempts are also made to eradicate racism. Ballard and Ballard (1977)14 conducted research into South Asian communities in Britain in the 1970’s and particularly their lifestyles. The research noted that earliest migrants did not generally preserve their traditional culture, with failure to take part in religious rituals, the abandonment of turbans and the growth of hair and beards.
Western influence was very apparent. Their research also noted that once individuals were joined by family individuals became more conscious of preserving religion and traditional family life; this led to a more distinctive ethnic identity. Tehmina N. Basit (1997)15 conducted research on eastern values, conducting in-depth interviews with 24 British Muslim girls and their parents. Teachers were also interviewed as to their perceptions of girls and compared against how the girls viewed themselves.
It was noted that although the girls considered themselves essentially Asian, their identity being linked to religion and culture; they also considered themselves British due to being born in Britain. Parents tended to have a stronger identity Asian identity but acknowledge if the girls were to ever return to Asia they would “not feel at home. “16 Basit notes “the girls themselves are constantly negotiating their own identities and subsequently creating distinct identities in different contexts without compromising their ethnicity, language and religion.
“17 It is apparent that the western influence indirectly encouraged dual identities; it led to the girls finding ways to adapt and incorporate elements of both cultures creating unique identities within British society. Second generation children have found code switch difficult as they often live between two worlds not fully belonging to either. Their backgrounds and their appearance play a crucial role; from which they can never fully escape.
Sylvia Hadjetian observes, “This generation represents a turning point for immigrants in Britain as they long for hybrid identities and want to overcome dichotomies between the British and their home cultures. This is possible when the parents let them go and society accepts and integrates them. “18 Richardson and Lambert (1985) suggest second generation children are “too far removed from the process of migration to be seen in terms of the immigrant-host model? “19 Tariq Modood (1997) based his research on statistical data from the National Survey of Ethnic Minorities 1994.
The data provided a large representative sample of ethnic minorities. The findings showed that a large majority of groups thought of themselves as part of an ethnic minority. Modood noted that ethnic identity was accredited to the group individuals belonged to as opposed to their actual behaviour. A progressive decline in cultural distinctiveness amongst the younger generation was evident. Modood (1997) concludes that “new ethnicities have less to do with culture and traditional ethnicities and more to do with identity and politics.
They are less distinctive and more likely to take on a hybrid form. “20 Contemporary UK has experienced changes in cultural diversity; ethnic identities exist in varying degrees and forms. Western culture has been powerfully influential in the changes to both immigrants and hosts; socialisation and the degree of assimilation have also been prominent factors. Whilst cultures continue to mutate, common cultural hybridity and the extent it exists is difficult to determine.