- About 5,200 people in UK adopted faith last year alone
The figure has almost doubled in ten years – with the average convert now a 27-year-old white woman fed up with British consumerism and immorality.
The numbers, revealed in a study by multi-faith group Faith Matters, have led to claims that the country is undergoing a process of ‘Islamification’.
The survey of converts revealed nearly two thirds were women, more than 70 per cent were white and the average age at conversion was just 27.But the organisation’s report argued that most converts saw their religion as ‘perfectly compatible’ with living in Britain.
It said: ‘Converts do not represent a devious fifth column determined to undermine the Western way of life – this is a group of normal people united in their adherence to a religion which they, for the most part, see as perfectly compatible with Western life.’
The report estimated around 5,200 men and women have adopted Islam over the past 12 months, including 1,400 in London. Nearly two-thirds were women, more than 70 per cent were white and the average age at conversion was 27.
Convert: Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, attracted a lot of publicity when she announced she had adopted the Islamic faith last year
In 2001, there were an estimated 60,000 Muslim converts in Britain. Since then, the country has seen the spread of violent Islamist extremism and terror plots, including the July 7 bombings.
Converts who have turned to terror include Nicky Reilly, who tried to blow up a restaurant in Bristol with a nail bomb, shoe bomber Richard Reid and July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay.
But the report said the number of converts sucked into extremism represented a ‘very small minority’.
The survey, conducted by Kevin Brice from Swansea University, asked converts for their views on the negative aspects of British culture.
They identified alcohol and drunkenness, a ‘lack of morality and sexual permissiveness’, and ‘unrestrained consumerism’.
More than one in four accepted there was a ‘natural conflict’ between being a devout Muslim and living in the UK. Nine out of ten women converts said their change of religion had led to them dressing more conservatively. More than half started wearing a head scarf and 5 per cent had worn the burka.
More than half also said they experienced difficulties after converting because of negative attitudes among their family.
Last year Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former prime minister Tony Blair, attracted widespread publicity when she announced that she had converted to Islam.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said: ‘Conversion to Islam has been stigmatised by the media and wrongly associated with extremist ideologies and discriminatory cultural practices.’