Census encourages Muslims to complete surveys

The federal government and the US Census Bureau are trying to convince some wary Muslims that the data will not be used against them. While other minority groups are also receiving the bureau’s special attention, Muslims are considered among the likeliest to decide not to fill the forms. This seems to be due to continuation of post-9/11 fear among some Muslims to be discriminated against. The Census, however, is prohibited from sharing information that could lead to identify individuals with law-enforcement agencies. The census workers are also committed to protection of confidentiality of data.

Columnist Haroon Siddiqui responds to latest demographic forecasts in Canada

Statistics Canada has released its population projections to 2031. The population of visible minorities is expected to rise from one in every five Canadians to one in three – potentially to 14.4 million. In 2031, the Toronto CMA (census metropolitan area, Oshawa to Burlington) would be nearly two-thirds non-white – 5.6 million. Among them, South Asians would have tripled to 2.1 million. Chinese would be 1.1 million. Vancouver also would be almost two-thirds non-white. Montreal would continue to lag in diversity. Only one in three would be non-white. Blacks (mostly Haitians, like Michaëlle Jean) would double to 381,000.
While immigration would remain a big-city phenomenon, mid-size cities would change as well. “VizMins” would double their numbers in Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oshawa, Peterborough, etc. Similarly, there have always been two Canada’s – urban and rural. What is different today is that most non-whites live in cities. Lastly, immigrants and visible minorities will remain better educated than the native-born and also much younger

US government assures the confidentiality of census data

On Thursday, the US government assured that all information provided in 2010 census will remain confidential. Some minority groups including Muslim Americans had raised questions regarding the confidentiality of their census data given the broad scope of national security federal laws such as the Patriot Act. In a note to Congress, the Obama administration ruled out the disclosure of 2010 census data under the Patriot Act assuring Americans and particularly minorities once again that their information will be kept confidential.

How many Muslims live in Austria?

A census of local Muslims in Austria has been initiated by the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ) as a result of the upcoming elections for the organization. The president of the IGGiÖ, Anas Schakfeh, expects approximately 100,000 Austrian Muslims to register, while estimates of Muslims in Austria range from 400,000 to 500,000.

The goal of this census is to establish clarity with regard to the number of Muslims in Austria. It was made possible by the new constitution of the IGGiÖ, recently approved by the Department of Religious Affairs (Kultusamt). Before, only the number of active members in the religious community was known, while now the registration will include children in their first years of life. Voting for the representatives of IGGiÖ is possible from the age of 14, the year when one comes of age with respect to religious considerations in Austria.

Forms for the registration are available on the IGGiÖ website, and will also be distributed to mosque associations. Aside from general personal information, the forms also ask in which association or mosque the applicant is a member. According to spokesperson Carla Amina Baghajati a number of filled out forms have already been returned, though the creation of a database is not yet possible as the necessary computer program has not yet been fully developed.

A mosque may appear in the center of Saint-Petersburg

City authorities do not exclude the possibility of building a mosque in Sennaya square in the center of Saint-Petersburg. Currently the City Planning Council is developing a reconstruction plan for the site. The plan should first, however, include reconstruction of the Assumption Church, destroyed in 1960’s.

“Today [Sennaya square] has become a specific area due to thousands of migrants from Caucasus and Asian republics living here. Want it or not, we can no longer neglect their national and religious peculiarities and demands, we have to face this process”,–says Serguey Sokolov, former chief architect of Saint-Petersburg.

According to the latest population census held in 2002 over 70,000 people of Muslim origin live in Saint-Petersburg. Experts, however, say the number may be much higher taking in consideration ever-growing migration flows.

Meanwhile only one mosque is available for Saint-Petersburg adherents of Islam, along with a couple of prayer rooms.

Muslims launch US-wide census

This summer, a team of Islamic advocacy groups and statistical organizations will begin a nationwide census of American mosques. The initiative is one in which organizers hope will paint a more accurate picture of composition of Muslims in the US. Challenges of the plan include finding all venues in which Muslims pray – as man Islamic communities do not have organized mosques, but still meet for congregational prayers in homes, workplaces, universities, and other multi-purposes places. The release of the study is planned for early 2009. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a similar study in 2001, which found that South Asians comprised 33% of mosque attendance, African Americans 30%, and Arabs 25%. Groups sponsoring the 2008 census include the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, The Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, and the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Practising Muslims ‘will outnumber Christians by 2035′

A think- tank has calculated that by 2035, there will be about 1.96 million active Muslims in Britain, compared with 1.63 million church-going Christians. Figures published in the latest of a series of reports entitled Religious Trends by Christian Research has warned that 4,000 churches could close by 2020 if congregations continue to shrink at current rates. According to the most recent figures from the Church of England, regular Sunday, weekly and monthly attendance each fell by one per cent in 2006. Fewer than a million people attend church every Sunday. Although at the last count there were only 1.6million Muslims living in Britain – compared to 41million Christians – experts have suggested Muslims are more likely to practise their faith. More than half of the Muslims who responded to the 2001 census said they prayed every day, compared to 6.3 per cent of Christians who attend church services each week. Christian Research describes its aim as encouraging “change in Christian culture so that by 2010 more churches are growing”.

Officials think UK’s Muslim population has risen to 2m

The Muslim population in the United Kingdom may now number as many as 2 million, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, disclosed yesterday during an official visit to Pakistan. The last published official estimate of the size of the Muslim community in Britain was 1.6 million, based on the findings of the 2001 census. The updated Whitehall estimate confirms the position of Islam as the second largest faith community after Christianity, and means that Muslims now make up 3.3% of the UK population. The 400,000 increase in the size of the Muslim community in less than seven years demonstrates its position as the fastest growing faith community in Britain, and also reflects the age structure of the community, with more than one-third under the age of 16 at the time of the 2001 census. Outside London, Pakistani Muslims make up more than 43% of the community, with Bangladeshis accounting for 17%, and those from India at 9%. In London, the Muslim community is more evenly split between Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. Alan Travis reports

Muslims to overtake Protestants in Austria, study says

Austria’s Muslim community continues to grow, and according to a study by the Austrian Society for International Understanding, Islam will overtake Protestantism as the country’s second-largest religious group by 2010. Christian religions had to suffer a massive decline in membership over the last 30 years, the study said. According to the 1971 census 6.49 million Austrians were Catholic. By 2006 that number had shrunk to 5.63 million. The number of Protestants went down by 120,000 to 326,000 faithful during the same period. At the same time, the number of Muslims in Austria increased 15-fold – from 22,200 in 1971 to around 400,000 in 2006, the study was quoted by DPA as saying.

One Fifth of Germans Have an Immigrant Background

For the first time, the Federal Statistical Office included questions concerning immigration in the population census. It found that around seven million foreigners live in Germany. If one adds those who became citizens only recently, one finds that around 15 million people, or one fifth of Germany’s population, has an immigrant background. Also interesting is the 2005 Report on Immigration, recently adopted by the Cabinet, which shows that the rate of immigration has been falling. At the same time, Wolfgang Sch_uble, the Minister of the Interior, argues that the percieved effect of immigration may be far beyond the actual level.