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A critical analysis of the barriers faced by young

Free essay example:

                Contemporary issues in criminology

‘A critical analysis of the barriers faced by young

Muslims living in the UK’

This assignment aims to investigate whether young Muslims living in the UK are faced with a number of social barriers that may have an effect and influence in the way they behave, live and think in this society. The study is based on a comprehensive review of literature dealing the inequalities faced by Muslims in the UK. It will analyse the concept of what it means to be British and how young Muslims are faced with dilemmas that may effect

The assignment will look at the specific inequalities that Muslims are faced with living in the UK. The areas of inequality that will be looked at range from the education, employment and housing aspect. I will discuss in detail how Muslims feel and view the way they are discriminated against and excluded from participating or contributing within these areas. I argue that it is important to understand the situation of people from a holistic perspective so by understanding this in totality, one can then appreciate why people act, behave and think in a certain way. The assignment will therefore discuss how Muslims feel victims of exclusion and how they experience discrimination in society.

In recent years, there has been a great concern about the discrimination that occurs against individuals and organisations from a number of religious backgrounds in the UK including the Muslim Faith. These individuals and communities argue that discrimination happens because of their faith and background and therefore needs to be taken more seriously by the government when tackling this injustice (Heppleet al 2001). One of the steps is that the government has asked the question of religious identity in the 2001 census so a clear understanding of religious diversity can be understood in the UK. However there has been other research that has been done in great detail to explore the exact data showing how Muslims living in the UK are discriminated against and excluded.

Overall, there has been little research done into the nature and extent of religious discrimination in the UK (Hepple et al 2001). Within my research I will use two specific sources that have researched into the discrimination that Muslims are faced with in vast detail. One of the research bodies that I will look at is The Research, Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS) which is part of the Home Office. The purpose of the Home Office is to build a ‘safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced and the protection and security of the public are maintained’ (Weller 2001 unpaged).

The second source of information I will use has been researched and collected by the Open Society Institute (2002). From one of the Programmes in 2002, the Open Society Institute published a volume of reports on minority protection in the five largest EU member states. The reports looked at the situation of Muslims in France, Italy and the United Kingdom and of the Roma communities in Germany and Spain. I will analyse the report that was addressed to the UK which was titled ‘The Situation of Muslims in the UK’. The report looks at and addresses the severe level of discrimination and oppression that is faced by the Muslim community in the UK. It also addresses the barriers that Muslims face to express their rights and liberties in the participation and integration process in the UK.

By looking at the inequalities in the UK The Open society Institute (2002) found that the Muslim communities are faced with severe discrimination and disadvantage from amongst other communities. Many Muslims in the UK determine and strive to be law abiding, respectable and adequate citizens but discrimination and inequalities which are experienced operate as barriers for those Muslims to play a full contribution to society. The report shows that Muslims may find it difficult to play that citizen role in their participation in all areas of pubic life when their respect and dignity becomes at risk because of the inequalities that they are faced with.

The Open society Institute (2002) report argues that for this discrimination to be addressed and tackled, the government within UK should play an active role in combating this form of exclusion. The report argues that there is an urgent need for policy makers in government and public bodies to ensure that there polices for tackling disadvantage and discrimination takes into account the faith aspect in the identities of Muslim communities. I shall begin by discussing the specific inequalities that Muslims are faced within the education factor.

It is essential to understand the significance of education as education is which allows people to become aware and conscious about the society and how it should function in an anti oppressive way.  Those who are engaged with education at national, local and institutional levels, particularly teachers, professional and policy makers should be engaged in the practical challenge that all students in education should be educated for living in a multi cultural society (Gundara et al 1986). This is an important aspect to take in consideration as education process enables students to be educated for living and participating fully in society. Gundara et al (1986) argue that education is a stepping stone and the foundation for students to learn, study and progress in their understanding about the society and we should live, think and behave towards others.

Education is vital to integration of people from different backgrounds into mainstream British society as well as social cohesion (The Open society Institute 2002). There are several reasons for this but by highlighting one specifically; we find that the education period, is the earliest mainstream social institution where people come to contact with one another, meeting people from different religions, races, beliefs, ethnic groups and backgrounds. It is a place where the schools teach to respect and promote diversity amongst people that plays a major influence in the way young people think and hold value for society (The Open society Institute 2002).

In order to understand the importance of the education stage within the British society, it is vital to know what the percentages of Muslims are in education so they go through these important stages of learning and developing themselves in society. The Open society Institute (2002) found that there were half a million Muslims receiving education in British schools. The schools, colleges, universities and other organisations that are delivering and participating in the education system have a significant role in engaging with the new generation of British Muslims as only half of the Muslim population in UK is in education.

There are no education statistics available on the basis of religious affiliation. However, there are statistics that are collected on the basis of ethnic origin. The origin of Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities which are from Muslim backgrounds, found that these communities perform less well than other pupils at all stages of compulsory education. In 2000 only 29 percent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils gained five or more GCSE grades A*- C. This is the lowest of any ethnic group and far below the national average of 49 percent (The Open society Institute 2002). As highlighted above, education directly impacts upon the lives of almost the whole of the population living in the UK. When people suffer from poor skills, or in other words, are less educated, it can create them and their family to fall into exclusion and could have a knock on effect to other life chances. But the question that needs to be addressed is why is it that groups from Muslim backgrounds suffer from this under achievement level and the national standard that is required.  

In relation to schools and education we can find that certain groups face inequality and discrimination far more than others and therefore this can be labelled as Institutional racism because of its existence on a large scale. Manson 1982 (cited Richardson 1985 pg 43) defines institutional racism as “any situation in which groups, socially defined as races, are systematically disadvantaged in respect of social rewards, capacities or opportunities”

There is a great lack of recognition and support for Muslim students as well as students from other ethnic and religious backgrounds in schools, colleges and universities. The main explanations that are given for the low levels of achievement are usually in the cause of poverty, social deprivation and language difficulties. Religious prejudice and Islamophobia are also obstacles as well as the low expectations of some teachers have upon Muslims students (The Open society Institute 2002).

The main concern that Muslim parents have for their children is when the academic results are shown to them and they may feel that their child is not achieving to the best of their ability because of what they look like or what their belief may be. I think this is an important aspect to take into consideration as parents who perceive and think that their children may be underachieving because of school policies or from racism and Islamaphobia is a major concern as the way they will think and feel about the government and public institutions will be negative.

In the attempt of finding out what the Muslim community and other faith groups felt and thought about the education system and the way their children are achieving, The Home Office (2001) carried out a survey on a postal questionnaire survey of religious organisations. The questionnaire found that A high percentage of respondents from Muslim and Sikh organisations said their pupils in education experienced unfair treatment from school teachers. Once again if communities feel and think that their children in education are experiencing difficulties because of the institution, then this could have a negative effect in the way they would address the inequality.

It is clearly evident that the Muslim community and parents of these students ‘feel’ and ‘believe’ that their children are being excluded and unfairly treated in many aspects of the education stages. Other evidence may suggest that this is true and Muslim students are treated more unequally than others but the argument here is what perception the community has upon the system. As mentioned previously, education is crucial and vital to integration of people in society, if this aspect is damaged and interfered with through inequality from an institutional level, then there is a real concern in the way that these young Muslims will observe the wider, multi cultural society as they grow up and live amongst other people. Therefore it is vital we are able to recognise the feelings and emotions parents and students go through so a response can be made and not neglected. This leads on to the next section which discusses employment. If poor education achievement is attained, how does this affect the employment aspect?

By looking at any organisation, one of the most important resources that play a contribution and vital role in the work field are the people that are employed. For the people that are in work, employment is an area of central importance to their lives and their families. For society in general, employment is a tool which provides cultural and financial wealth (Weller 2001). Therefore it is crucial and imperative that all individuals in employment receive fair opportunities and are not discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, religion etc.

Tony Blair states that ‘‘the best defence against social exclusion is having a job, and the best way to get a job is to have a good education, with the right training and experience’ (Social Exclusion Unit 1999 unpaged). As I have highlighted above, we have to bear in mind that if good education is the first barrier of oppression and inequality, then it becomes more difficult to achieve the full potential of individual and therefore it becomes a vicious cycle that leads on to another that would make it difficult for the individual to get a job because of the lack of skills, experience and knowledge.

The Social Exclusion Unit (1999) report identified that every year about 161,000 young people are not involved in any education, training or employment. Data on ethnic minority participation in employment show that Pakistani and Bangladeshis are consistently the most disadvantaged groups, with lower rates of economic activity and employment and higher rates of unemployment than other ethnic minority groups. Four-fifths of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households have incomes at or below the national (Weller 2001).

Feelings are a vital issue to take in consideration as the views, opinions, and ideas about a matter may depend on how they perceive the wider society. If people are not happy with the way they are being treated then they will reflect on that situation and may try to change it to suit them better.

In relation to the employment area, more specifically the private sector, approximately three quarters or more of the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu faith groups said their members experienced unfair treatment whilst the Christian faith group only reported 40% of unfair treatment. Muslim organisations said unfair treatment by private sector managers was frequent whilst only 5 per cent of the Christian organisations reported this. In the public sector, a higher percentage of Muslim organisations continued to report unfair treatment frequently than any other faith groups. In the voluntary sector, Muslim organisations were less likely to report unfair treatment than the people from other sectors (Weller 2001).

This clearly highlights that Muslims felt that they were the main victims in being discriminated against in employment. For Muslims to achieve and fulfil the full potential, it becomes extremely difficult when continuous and frequent acts of discrimination are reported in the work field. Therefore, it is extremely important that we are able to recognise the evidence to suggest the way in which Muslims as well as other ethnic minorities are unfairly untreated. The next section will very briefly highlight housing and the way Muslims feel about the inequalities in this aspect.

One of the most fundamental and essential needs of humans is housing and it is also a major consumer good. Family life is significant around the home and it also brings contact with neighbours and the wider community. Concepts of space, belonging and territory may come into play as well as religious and cultural needs. According to the Home office report (2001) two thirds of Muslim organisations reported unfair treatment from the staff, policies and practices of private landlords, local authorities and housing associations as well as from estate agents.

This assignment has given a wide understanding of the inequalities and exclusion Muslims are faced with and in particular a sense of emotion, belief, feeling and idea regarding the oppression directed towards their communities has been established. The evidence in this aspect shows that Muslims perceive their communities to be treated unfairly amongst other communities and recognise that the exclusion of Muslims amongst decision making, participation, contribution and involvement with the wider community is very little and the Home Office report (2002) highlights that the respondents of the questionnaire said that more needs to be done to integrate and include the Muslims viewpoint into action. Other areas of inequalities can be discussed; however the issues that I have addressed give you a concept of the major factors affecting Muslims in the UK.

Reference List

Braham P and Janes (2002) Social Differences and divisions The Open University

Gundara J, Jones C, Kimberley K, (1986) Racism, Diversity and Education, Hodder and Stoughton Press, London

Hepple, B Coussey, M Choudhury,T (2000).Equality: A New Framework–The Report of the Independent Review of the Enforcement of UK Anti-Discrimination Legislation, Hart Publishing, Oxford

ODPM (2002) Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee Social Cohesion Sixth Report of Session 2003–04

ODPM (2003). Social Cohesion: Sixth Report of Session 2003–04 Volume I: Report

Official Statistics (2006) National statistics Online London, ONS, www.statistics.gov.uk

Open Society Institute (2002) Muslims in the UK: Policies for Engaged CitizensOpen Society Institute. London. UK

Payne, G (2000), Social Divisions, Macmillan Press Ltd,

Rattansi, A (1992) ‘Race’ culture and difference Sage publications

Scott, D. Pearce, and P. (2001) The Sizes and Characteristics of Ethnic Populations of Great Britain, in Population Trends, vol. 105, 2001

Social Exclusion Unit (1999) Bridging The Gap: New Opportunities For 16 –18 Year Olds Not In Education, Employment Or Training

Social Exclusion Unit (2004) consultations socialexclusion.gov.uk

Social exclusion unit, (2001) A new commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal,National Strategy Action Plan, Social Exclusion, London

Walsh, M Stephen P, and Moore, S (2000) Social Policy and Welfare, Stanley Thrones Ltd, Cheltenham

Weller, A. Feldman, K. Purdam, (2001) Religious Discrimination in England and Wales: Home Office Research Study 220: Home Office, London


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