I have been developing new resources for teaching Islam over the last year. As part of this work, our factual quiz with 11-year-olds about Muslims in Britain uncovered some misconceptions.
What proportion of British people are Muslim? The average guess from one group of pupils was 25 per cent. But what is the correct answer? In the last census, it was 4.8 per cent.
Now I love living in a society where one in 20 people are Muslims, but if a young person feels threatened by Islam, exaggerating the figures five-fold, as those guesses did, could invite prejudice or something more dangerous.
RE teachers fight prejudice with knowledge. We know pupils need a richer and more textured knowledge of Islam. After taking our quiz, one 11-year-old from Brighton wrote: “I was really shocked that there was a mosque during 1889. This is because I didn’t realise there was enough Muslims to need one – during Victorian era it is stereotyped that Britain was full of Christians. I did badly in the questionnaire because I often hear negative media opinions of Muslims. Some say our country is over-run by Muslims, when in actual fact they are only 4.8 per cent of Britain’s population.”
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