22/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 23:50

Vote 2012: Why do so few Muslims vote?

Category: England

Published: 1st May 2012 05:29:25

At the 2010 UK general election, 53% of Muslims did not vote, according to a study by research company Ipsos Mori for the Electoral Commission.

This was a higher percentage than any other religious group in the country.

"I'm not totally surprised, but I'm not happy about it," said Talha Ahmad, chair of the membership committee at the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations in Britain.

With elections being held in 128 local authorities in England on 3 May, Mr Ahmad has been working with the MCB to encourage Muslims to buck this trend.

I wasn't aware of how it all worked - I left it to the family to do”

The data, based on 3,586 adults aged 18 and older across the United Kingdom, also found that 15% of Church of England Christians did not vote, along with 28% who were neither Christian nor Muslim and 23% who said they did not belong to a religion.

Dr Roger Mortimore, director of political research at Ipsos Mori, said: "Ethnic minority turnout is historically lower. I would expect it to be lower than white British turnout, but that is only a small sample."

Mr Ahmad wants Muslims in England to use their right to vote, but feels that political parties in the past have not helped themselves either.

He said: "My own experience growing up in Birmingham was that nobody ever spoke to me. They always just spoke to my dad. It would have made a difference if they had spoken to me or my mum too."

Although Mr Ahmad believes that parties are improving in terms of reaching out, he thinks that Muslims need to take the initiative too, especially as in many areas of social deprivation they "are the worst affected".

Source: Ipsos MORI

"Political awareness is very low - a lot of Muslims in this country are still first generation and feel alienated from the political process.

"They don't appreciate the power of elected officials, but our feelings are meaningless if we don't make our voices heard," he said.

Ayman Hirji, 30, arrived in England from Kenya 10 years ago and did not vote until the last general election.

"I wasn't aware of how it all worked - I left it to the family to do. I didn't realise how important it was for me to vote," she said.

Mrs Hirji, who works as a finance and administration assistant for community charity KSIMC in Birmingham, thinks this is "probably the case for most people in a similar position to me".

"I pay more attention now to what's going on in the country and its policies."

Ipsos MORI also found there were more first-time Muslim voters in 2010 than from any other religion.

Mishalle Iqbal, an 18-year-old student from Slough, will be voting for the first time on Thursday and said it was "alarming" that so many Muslims do not vote.

"There may be a feeling there is no political party which represents them well, lack of education or knowledge about the voting system or simply not understanding what difference their vote can make in society," she said.

"This is both a right and a privilege we have as citizens of the UK and I think it is vital that we exercise this so we are represented well as a community."

She said she would be voting "because I believe it is vital to take part in society in order to make a difference".

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said that it had not done any specific work within the Muslim community because "this is the role of parties and campaigners".

"Our role focuses on encouraging people - of all groups and backgrounds - to register to vote so, if they choose to, they can vote on polling day."

Mr Ahmad highlighted the recent success of the Respect Party in Bradford West as an illustration of what can happen when Muslims "feel strongly" about politics.

"For issues that matter to them they do turn out. George Galloway has electrified the Muslim community of Bradford."

Despite this, the British branch of the Hizb ut-Tahrir group distributed leaflets outside key mosques in Birmingham, Manchester and London stating that it is "haram" or forbidden for Muslims to vote in the 2010 UK parliamentary elections.

However, Mr Ahmad said that only a "very, very small group of people" still think that voting is "haram".

"Most scholars have come out in favour of voting. I haven't come across one who isn't in favour of voting," he said.

"This year, I'm confident that there will be an increase in turnout."

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Vote 2012: Why do so few Muslims vote? [Online] (Updated 1st May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1425637/Vote-2012-Why-do-so-few-Muslims-vote [Accessed 23rd Jul 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Dylan Thomas Prize: Swansea University reveals longlist

    A Man Booker Prize winner is among 15 books on the longlist for the 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize.
  • Iraq violence: Suicide car bombs kills 21 in Baghdad

    A suicide bomb has killed at least 21 people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police and medical officials have said.
  • Apple earnings boosted by strong iPhone sales

    Apple has reported quarterly profits of $7.75bn (£4.5bn) - up 12% on the same period last year.
  • Ravenhill Road to remain closed as more holes found

    More "voids" have been found beneath an east Belfast road that was closed after a large hole was discovered under one of its traffic lanes.
  • NHS 'wasting millions on supplies'

    Ever wondered how much your local hospital pays for incontinence pads, medical wipes or surgical gloves?