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London's neighbourhoods 'segregated by religion'

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London's neighbourhoods 'segregated by religion'

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Published by webmaster for 24dash.com in Housing

London neighbourhoods 'segregated by religion'

Britain's capital city is far more segregated on religious grounds than by race, new research revealed today.

Dramatic maps produced by academics at the University of East London showed the capital has become a patchwork of religious enclaves, with minority religions making up 80% of the population in some areas.

Only 3% of London's seven million residents live in areas ed as racially segregated, but 25% live in religiously segregated neighbourhoods.

The study also questioned whether ministers are right - after the 2001 race riots and the July 7 bombings - to attempt to tackle segregation.

The findings indicated living in segregated communities could actually benefit some of the minorities involved, although Muslims were more likely to be "trapped" in deprived areas and less likely to forge links with other groups living around them.

Professor Allan Brimicombe, author of the study, said: "Traditionally the amount of residential segregation in London has been looked at in terms of ethnicity.

"By ethnicity there is not very much residential segregation. But when you turn it around and look at religious self-identity we see there is a lot of segregation in London by minority religious groups."

He added: "About 25% of London's population can be said to live in areas that are dominated by religious minority groups."

Parts of the capital showed dominance by Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, Prof Brimicombe said, adding: "But quite large swathes of London are Muslim dominated."

He said of the new research, which uses Census data: "People live in much more mixed communities and it is a matter of trying to ify areas by degree of mixing, or lack of it.

"That is where this new ification comes in - it maps ethnicity and religion by the same methods so they are directly comparable."

The city's religious breakdown was then compared with information indicating deprivation, such as educational qualifications and housing types.

"We found that a level of segregation actually seems to improve the lot of people living in areas that are segregated along religious self-identity lines," said the author.

"The Jews, Hindus and Sikhs seem to be better off in areas that are dominated by their own religion, except for the Muslim-dominated areas which get progressively worse off as they become more segregated.

"Any government plan that talks about 'parallel lives' and a lack of integration being a bad thing is missing the point - it's not bad for everybody.

"But for one group, the Muslims, they seem to be trapped in a spiral where they can't seem to move out of high deprivation areas."

Although some neighbourhoods of the capital have up to 80% of their residents from one religious minority, it did not amount to a "ghetto", added Prof Brimicombe, of the university's Centre for Geo-Information Studies.

Under academic definitions of a ghetto there would have to be almost exclusively one category living in that area and it would be the only area in a city occupied by that religion or ethnicity.

Concentrated communities of Muslims are found in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham; Jews in Harrow, Barnet and north Hackney; and Hindus in Brent.

The research was published in Environment And Planning B: Planning And Design 2007.

Copyright Press Association 2007.

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