Friday, March 25, 2011

“Most of the Muslim community is apprehensive about confronting radicals; There’s an unresolved identity issue.”

“The Islamists are telling everyone what Cameron means is ‘change your religion.’ This is what Muslims are getting from the gatekeepers of their communities.”
Reporting for the International Herald Tribune, John Vinocur notes that that is
a view suggesting Britain’s Islamists will press for ignoring the government if it really does try to dismantle the multicultural status quo that [Prime Minister David Cameron] says “encouraged different cultures to live separate lives” and “tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.”

… The prime minister’s speech Feb. 5 brought him into line with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcements of multiculturalism’s demise — meaning, seemingly, that the accommodation of Muslim immigrants’ particularities must end, replaced by their acceptance of the primacy of the laws, standards and cultural (but not religious) identity of the host country’s majority.

Indeed, Mr. Cameron, with an eye on his electorate in the manner of his French and German counterparts, said that when “unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly, even fearful, to stand up to them.”

But the British situation, in its European context, has been different over the years and remains more volatile. Sometimes self-willed, the segregation of its immigrant communities appears unique; the level of Islamic extremism is widely regarded as higher; and the advocacy of Muslim exceptionalism (such as the use of Shariah) is more mainstream, advocated by organizations like the Muslim Council of Britain.

Accounts of the heat and abrasions of a daily clash of cultures can be jarring.

…In a view from the European Continent, the Dutch sociologist Paul Scheffer, author of a new book, “Immigrant Nations,” describes Britain as the country, alongside Canada, where multiculturalism is most entrenched but where “radicalization is the most intense.”

And with ironic gloom, Olivier Roy, the French expert on the Middle East, in finding the opening of a “post-Islamist generation” in the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, writes that Islamism’s most radical international jihadists are now elsewhere: in the North African desert with Al Qaeda, in Pakistan, “or in the suburbs of London.”

To talk about how British multiculturism might be modified, I went to the town of Rotherham in Yorkshire, where people of Pakistani backgrounds can make up as much as 10 percent of the parliamentary election districts.

Mahroof Husain, the borough councilor in charge of “community cohesion,” did not dodge the problem. As an attempt to deal with the alienation of the local white working-class residents, and their sense of being disadvantaged in relation to social services given immigrants, he told me of guiding funds their way that were originally meant to prevent Muslim radicalization.

At the same time, he acknowledged that “most of the Muslim community is apprehensive about confronting radicals. There’s an unresolved identity issue.”

For an explanation of this, I talked to Dr. Mohammed Hamid Husain, immigrant, physician, Rotherham notable and an officer of the Order of the British Empire. More True Brit, it would seem, you cannot get. Still, he said:

“I want to differentiate between integration and assimilation. I am all for integration. Assimilation means giving up everything.”

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