ABOUT one in four Wycombe residents will one day be Muslim district MP Paul Goodman has predicted – leading him to call for greater cohesion between communities.
He said he expected the population to rise to between 25 and 28 per cent by 2024.
This is up from six per cent in 1991 and 11 per cent in 2001, where 162,105 people lived in the district.
Mr Goodman, shadow minister for community cohesion, said: “The Wycombe of the future, like a lot of Britain of the future, is going to look very different.”
Yet Mr Goodman, set to quit at the next election, said the district was well placed to see greater integration between communities.
He told community leaders today: “Wycombe has a marvellous opportunity given its relative prosperity, employment rates and so on, to be a beacon for Christian-Muslim relations.
“It should be easier than in places where perhaps there is a steeper hill to climb.”
Public bodies have given renewed focus to community relations after arrests in High Wycombe in 2006 over an alleged terror plot, presently being heard in court.
The Government has given district groups cash to run projects to fight extremism.
Conservative Mr Goodman said such problems are “solvable” but “only if enough people pay Islam the compliment of taking it seriously and doing a little basic study”.
The “glory” of multi-culturalism had been letting different faiths “do their own thing” he said.
Referring to the 2005 London terror attacks, he said: “An aspect of leaving people alone to do their own thing and assuming the results were always good haven’t turned out to be right.”
Alluding to the John Lennon song “Imagine”, which imagines a peaceful world without religion, the MP backed the case for a society of faith.
Religion had contributed to education, politics and morality, he said. “It is completely impossible to imagine human life or social life without it,” Mr Goodman said.
He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Council for Christian and Muslim Relations for High Wycombe at Bucks New University today.