Islamification: Europe’s Challenge
Relaunched: 28 November 2015
This feature was originally published as ‘Islamification: Britain’s Challenge’ in 9 June 2013. It is now updated, expanded and relaunched under its revised title to reflect the dramatic changes that have taken place since the original publication and to add more of a European dimension.
Islamification is a highly-emotive word. For me personally, it instantly conjures up images of English Defence League (EDL) demonstrators with their ‘No more mosques!’ placards
But Islamification should be a word that stirs the emotions, one way or the other. By definition (WordSense.eu), it is the process of converting a region or a society to Islam.
If being in a society that is taken over by Islamists (political supporters of fundamentalist Islam) and introduces Sharia law is something you would welcome, then impending Islamification should give you comfort and possibly even joy. If, like me, you enjoy many of the freedoms (and indulgences) of living in what is increasingly a post-Christian, secular society, then Islamification may fill you with apprehension. In an Islamified Europe, non-Muslims would be ‘dhimmi’: second class citizens.
So…is Islamification happening? If it is, how does Europe and, particularly for me, Britain deal with it? (Or does it deal with us?!?)
Islam is an evangelistic religion
Islam, like its fellow Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity, has a history of conversion and expansion – spreading its memes – by violence and warfare. While it is fairly clear that Christian scriptures don’t sanction conversion and expansion by violence in the way sections of the Islamic and Jewish holy books appear to, there is no debating that a key reason for Christianity’s dominance right around the world in the 19th Century was the fact it rode into foreign lands on the backs of the European colonialists and their violent conquests of indigenous peoples.
While Christianity has largely lost its warlike element – or, at least, the religion is, for the most part, no longer in the hands of warmongers – significant elements in Judaism and Islam are still wedded to the idea of spreading the faith by conquest. In Israel there are still ultra-Orthodox Jews committed to the notion of a permanent annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, conquered in 1967’s 6-Day War, and defending that annexation by violence if need be, to create the ‘Greater Israel’ of King David’s time. The ambition of certain fundamentalist Muslim groups to create an Islamic caliphate right across Europe and North Africa is linked to al-Qaeda-style actions, from the August 7 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa onwards. More recently we’ve had the actual declaration of a small caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria by UnIslamic State (ISIS). In deference to multiple requests in the media from leading Islamic thinkers to use alternative terms to ‘Islamic State’, I use one of their suggested terms, ‘UnIslamic State’. One stated reason for these requests is to not confer on ISIS a sheen of validity – ie: they are not ‘Islamic’ and they are not a ‘state’. However, following the ISIS-directed massacres in Paris on 13 November, French president François Hollande has announced France is at war with UnIslamic State (BBC News, 2015c). Since war is defined as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), it could be argued Hollande is effectively conceding the status of ‘state’ to ISIS.
But not all evangelistic activity has to be violent. Sometimes simply shifting demographics can create a ‘conquest effect’ almost by accident.
For some 10 years ‘Eurabia’ theorists – mostly Americans such as Bat Ye’Or (aka Gisèle Littman, 2005), who coined the Eurabia term, and Mark Steyn (2008) – have been working to develop a moral panic about Europe becoming ‘Islamified’. With the indigenous white populations of Europe not breeding at a stock replacement level and allowing into their countries high levels of immigrants (mostly Muslim) attracted, in part, by the generous welfare systems, the fear is that, inevitably, the white secularist and Christian peoples decline in number while the immigrant peoples tend to have larger families. The predicted end result is that the Muslims become the majority while the white secularists and Christians become dhimmi, living under Sharia law. Matt Hill (2011) states that the Eurabia theorists describe “a continent where women are forcibly veiled, gay clubs are closed for business and white people are forced to flee as once-proud Christian nations fall like so many dominoes in the face of militant Islam.”
It’s an apocalyptic picture that many non-Muslims will find more than a little scary. It feeds the racism that underpins far right organisations like the British National Party (BNP) and Britain First, France’s Front National and Germany’s Pegida and it provides the cause which drives groups such as the EDL to action. In the UK any overt Islamist activity seen to contradict ‘traditional’ British values – such as the demonstrations against soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in Luton (2009) and Barking (2010) – tends to be seen as evidence of an imminent Muslim takeover and sends dozens, if not hundreds, off to join Britain First and/or the EDL. Real terrorist violence tends, not entirely unnaturally, to lead to more extreme reactions. The Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in January were followed by a 23.5% rise in attacks on Muslim targets – physical assaults, verbal abuse and damage to property – in France over the following 6 months (as reported by Middle East Eye’s Hassina Merchai). In the week 13-20 November the National Observatory of Islamophobia, a group linked to France’s official Muslim council, reported 32 anti-Muslim incidents (Reuters).
Yet more and more Muslims are explicitly distancing themselves from such violence. For example, the #notinmyname Twitter campaign – launched by in September 2014 by London’s Active Change Foundation in response to UnIslamic State atrocities – has grown with each new act of barbarity and virtually exploded across the internet in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
Even ‘peaceful’ Islamist demonstrations such as those against the returning soldiers appear to be far from supported by many Muslims. As Manzour Hussain a councillor at Barking, told the Daily Mail’s Andrew Levy the demonstrators “do not represent the vast majority of law-abiding, peaceful Muslim members of society who respect Britain’s Armed Forces and the work they do.”
Conducting a hard-headed analysis of the Eurabia theories is not helped by such demonstrations and especially by terrorist violence. It’s also not helped by a politician such as Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Asian/Muslim cabinet minister, appearing to give the Islamists’ game away at a speech to the Global Peace & Unity Conference at the Excel London Centre October 2008. In the speech Malik says: “In 1997 we got our first Muslim MP. In 2001 we had 2 Muslim MPs. In 2005 we had 4 Muslim MPs. In ša Allah, in 2009 (or) 2010 we’ll have 8 or 10 Muslim MPs. In 2014 we’ll have 16 Muslim MPs. At this rate the whole parliament will be Muslim.” In the video – see below – Malik appears to realise he may have gone too far and says, “in case any members of the press are present”, a Muslim parliament is not his objective.
However, Malik does go on to say: “I am confident, as Britain’s first Muslim minister, that, in ša Allah, in the next 30 years or so, we’ll see a prime minister who happens to share my faith.”
Quite what Malik, then Minister of Justice, was playing at in that speech is hard to fathom. Was it his RED vMEME saying whatever it wanted without sense of consequence because he felt all-powerful in that moment? Was it the impulsiveness of the temperamental dimension of Psychoticism carrying him away? Or a bit of both?
One of Malik’s aides was reported to have dismissed the 49-second video clip from a 20-minute speech as ‘BNP propaganda’ and said: “Mr Malik’s comments were plainly a joke as he and the audience were laughing. Indeed Mr Malik clearly says in his speech that his objective is not to have a Muslim Parliament.” (The Press, 2009)
Almost as interesting as what Malik actually said is the fact that his comments on Muslim MPs were excised from the original video record of the event. There also seem to have been no reports of the comments in the press. The clip containing the comments was posted on YouTube 5 months later. Predictably the YouTube posting sent the far-right-wing internet forum boards into an anti-Islamification melt-down…which a cursory search of the internet will reveal is still bubbling away. Yet there has been hardly any reporting of it in the mainstream media.
This would appear to support the Eurabia theorists’ concerns that, out of GREEN political correctness, most of Europe – Western Europe at least – is unwittingly turning a blind eye to itself being Islamified without any real resistance and with little recognition of what is happening to it.
While, over the past few years, it’s become a sheer necessity for the mainstream political parties in Europe to address the issue of immigration just to undermine the political appeal of the BNP, Le Front National, etc – see the Blog post: Is restricting immigration discriminatory? – rather less attention has been paid to how Britain and other European countries deal with having sizeable immigrant-derived populations, many of them second, third and even fourth generation.
An illustration of how there needs also to be a focus on already-settled immigrant populations is given by Douglas Murray (2012). He notes that Labour’s Sadiq Khan has pointed out that local councils in the UK have spent their money on translation services rather than language classes. This, according to Khan, actually dissuades immigrants from learning the language. The result is communities with inter-generational language barriers.
The 2011 UK census revealed 3 million people are now living in households where no adult speaks English as their primary language.
This can be seen as a failure of integration and acculturation. – the degree to which an ethnic minority group takes on the norms and values of the dominant majority group. Multiculturalism – giving equal weight to all the different beliefs, values and norms of the varied ethnic groups as a strategy to respect diversity – has been blamed for much of this on the grounds that it allows immigrant groups to not integrate but stay within their own cultures. See the Blog post David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism but…
So, while controlling/limiting immigration is obviously an issue, equally important is how we deal with immigrant-derived communities and their interaction with the majority population.
Just how fast are population demographics changing?
The census also revealed that, between 2001 and 2011 the Muslim population of the UK rose from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. In other words, the Muslim element of the overall population increased from 3% to 4.8%.
This fits with US National Intelligence Council (NIC) 2010 estimates, quoted by Justin Vallaise (2010), that Muslims comprise around 4.5% of the population of Western Europe – around 18 million inhabitants.
The effect of immigration on population balances in Europe is significant. Only 3.2% of Spain’s population was foreign-born in 1998; in 2007 it was 13.4%. In England & Wales, France and Germany approximately 25% of all births are now from foreign-born mothers. In 2009 Adrian Michaels stated that Europe’s Muslim population has more than doubled in the previous 30 years and was expected to double again by 2015. In April, just prior to this Summer’s refugee crisis, David Masci of the Pew Research Centre was predicting that Muslims would comprise over 10% of Europe’s population by 2050. Masci attributes this predicted growth in large part to the median age of Muslims in Europe being 32 while that of Christians is 42 – the Muslim-identifying population obviously being more fertile and more likely to produce offspring.
To give a little perspective to these figures, it’s worth noting that while Christians are predicted to decline in numbers by over 8%, they will remain by far and away the largest self-identifying group. Masci suspects that the increase in ‘unaffiliated’ (secular) will come largely from the ranks of the Christians.
Nonetheless, such statistics and projections make a nonsense of earlier forecasts. In 2004 the European Union thought its population would decline by 16 million by 2050. Now, according to Michaels, it thinks it will increase by 10 million by 2060. Britain is expected to become the most populous EU country by 2060, with 77 million inhabitants – even though in 2009 it had 20 million fewer people than Germany. Italy’s population was expected to fall precipitously; now it is predicted to stay flat. It’s impossible yet to predict just how many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Europe this year will end up becoming EU citizens or, to all intents and purposes, permanent residents; but the numbers are likely to be significant. The Gatestone Institute, as reported by Soeren Kern, is predicting the 2015 influx will push Germany’s Muslim population up – even if only temporarily – to nearly 6 million.
Of course, Muslims are not distributed evenly across the countries and cities of Europe. Rather, Muslim communities tend to grow in certain locales. The 2001 UK census showed that Muslims comprised 16.08% the population in my home town of Bradford; the 2011 census showed that percentage to have increased to 24.7. The latest census showed Tower Hamlets to have the largest percentage of Muslims – at 34.5% – with Newham at 32%. Other notably-high Muslim population concentrations included Blackburn & Darwen at 27% and Luton at 24.6%.
Back in 2009 Michaels quoted from a paper submitted to the European parliament by Karoly Lorant calculating that Muslims already make up 25% of the population in Marseilles and Rotterdam, 20% in Malmo, 15% in Brussels and Birmingham and 10% in London, Paris and Copenhagen.
Michaels also quotes from the forecaster Christopher Caldwell that whites will be in a minority in Birmingham by 2026 and even sooner in Leicester. Caldwell also holds that Muslims could outnumber non-Muslims in France and perhaps in all of Western Europe by mid-21st Century. Austria was 90% Catholic in the 20th Century but Islam could be the majority religion among Austrians aged under-15 by 2050.
The statistics show the kind of growth in population density in European Muslim communities that the Eurabia theorists are so alarmed about – and that’s without factoring in the 2015 influx. However, the future projections make assumptions that may not be justified.
As David Coleman (2013) points out such forecasts assume the different groups – Muslim, Christian, secular, etc – remain separate and discreet. As Gampaolo Lanzieri (2012) found in his study of 30 European countries, mixed marriages are on the increase right across Europe. In 25 of the countries, there were more mixed marriages in 2008-10 than there had been in 2005-07. Granted the share of the total population of marriageable age actually married to a foreigner is low, below 5% – with Britain at the low end at 4.2% and France at the high end at 5.6%. Nonetheless, mixed marriages/partnerships are taking place and do seem to be on the increase.
Hill reports on a second way the groups are failing to remain discreet…which is the growing number of former Muslims who have bravely gone public with their embrace of secularism, despite facing ostracism and sometimes violence for the offence of ‘apostasy’.
The second assumption Eurabia theorists make, which may not be justified, is that immigrant Muslims in Europe will continue to have large families in the future. The NIC research Vallaise draws upon finds that fertility rates among Muslims – though still notably higher than Christians and secularists – are sharply declining as many children of immigrants gradually conform to prevailing social and economic norms.
So, yes, there has been a substantial rise in the Muslim populations in Britain and elsewhere in Europe in recent years and that has led to significant changes in the demographics of the continent. However, there is some indication Muslims may start valuing having smaller families and there is a small and slowly-growing body of people who are moving out of being so tightly-tied to the Muslim communities.
How is the changing religious composition of Britain and Europe affecting our societies?
Hill quotes from the British Social Attitudes Survey of 2009 which showed, for the first time, a majority of people – 50.7% – claiming to be non-religious. While 76.3% of respondents said they were raised as Christians, only 43.7% now identified as such. While 2.3% of people were raised as Muslims, 2.4% identified themselves as such. So while, there was a slight increase in the number of Muslims – presumably through conversion – in Hill’s words, “The real story, when it comes to British religion, is the number of people converting to godlessness…. They [immigrant Muslims] join a country that is already the most godless in the world. Our crypto-Catholic ex-PM Tony Blair didn’t ‘do God’ – because he knew being honest about his faith would poll badly with the rational majority.”
Looking at Europe overall, Masci’s predictions are a little different – with ‘Christians’ of some sort still projected to be the largest self-identified group in 2050 – but Muslims still trail well behind the unaffiliated (secular), having less than half their number.
Of course, as studies of Conformity have shown, minorities can exert influence out of all proportion to their size – especially when the minority are at serious odds with the majority. In a country described by Hill as “the most godless in the world”, the minority who favour a strict, moral code for living (from their religious beliefs) are going to feel decidedly at odds with memes of the dominant culture which are permissive and can be seen as ‘sinful’. The religious minority have 2 real choices in such a situation: they can become an inward-looking, separate community, as the Amish are in Pennsylvania and other parts of the United States, or they can be outward-looking, engage with the majority and attempt to influence them. As Islam is an outward-looking, evangelical converting religion, many Muslims will attempt to persuade by one means or another.
These potency of having a outward-looking and growing Muslim minority with different values and norms to the majority is exemplified in the work of Leon Moosavi (2011). He writes: “Political involvement needs to be taken more seriously and Muslim leaders should start developing young British Muslims for more ‘Islamic engagement’ in politics. A lot can be done for instance to make Britain more moral. No doubt a moral Britain is far better than an immoral one, and as evident as this may seem, the government recently requested a consultation about forcing telecommunications companies to filter websites for online pornography. The result of the consultation was disappointing as only 35% of the parents who responded favoured such an approach and hence the government failed to legislate anything of that nature. It is needless to say that more Muslim involvement could have led to a more positive outcome that favours morality, as undoubtedly traits of morality improves society even within a non-Muslim majority.”
Moosavi gives us a powerful example of how Muslims working within the existing political system could influence the moral nature of the UK. To all intents and purposes, a degree of Islamification by peaceful, democratic means. As Moosavi goes on to write: “Islam, whether to the liking of European Governments or not, has become a major part of the European landscape. Many thinkers have started to request a review into policies that affect Muslims including legislation surrounding the Hijab, Halal food, holidays for Eid and so on.”
In some places with very high density Muslim populations, like Bradford, change is afoot and some of this is starting to happen already. The TESCO superstore in the centre of the city sells Halal meat while several non-Asian restaurants have it on their menu. Bradford Council puts up street lights and decorations for Eid as well as Christmas – though they also do Diwali. More controversially there are reports of unofficial Sharia law courts operating in some of Britain’s cities – UKIP leader Nigel Farage has claimed there are 80. Kern claims that “Sharia law is advancing rapidly throughout Germany, with Sharia courts now operating in all of Germany’s big cities.” It should be noted here, though. that the Jewish Beth Din court system has been operating in the UK for decades, with Jews choosing to use that or the regular UK legal systems as they please. Kern also draws attention to one Muslim norm which is contrary to European laws: “Polygamy, although illegal under German law, is commonplace among Muslims in all major German cities. In Berlin, for example, it is estimated that fully one-third of the Muslim men living in the Neukölln district of the city have two or more wives.”
Discussion of sexual morality raises one of the biggest issues of all: homosexuality. As I ask in the Blog post. What will Islam do for Homosexuals?, will even moderate Muslims want action against this ‘sin’?
Thus, Moosavi’s encouragement for young Muslims to get involved “in the socio-political dynamics of the country” so that they can “at least ensure that the UK is a suitable place where Muslims can live without compromising their faith” also illustrates only too starkly some of the likely values conflicts that will shape the UK and Western Europe over the coming decades.
At its core it’s a conflict between the values of the BLUE vMEME and the values of a RED/GREEN vMEME harmonic.
BLUE looks for an external truth to which all must conform and obey. In times past in Europe, that external truth was the Bible. Now, for Muslims in Europe, it’s the Qur’an. Religion, driven by BLUE in its most extreme form, will not tolerate any form of deviance, no matter how small – thus, Protestants and Catholics will kill each other, as will Sunnis and Shi’ites…and Muslims and Christians will wantonly slaughter each other – all over minor differences in worshipping the same God or understandings of what that same God wants.
Of course, strict adherence to the ‘truths’ of a religion is far from being the only manifestation of a BLUE mindset but it can be a key one. In a telling statement during the HemsMESH project of 2000, Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck commented on the lack of BLUE influence in British society and pointed his finger at the Christian churches which, as a generalisation, he accused of failing to espouse strict moral codes for living and watering down their dogmas in futile attempts to appeal to more people to reverse declining congregations. Effectively Beck accused them of going GREEN.
The GREEN vMEME has dominated much intellectual thought in Western European society over the past 50-60 years. Its anything-that-nourishes-and/or-liberates-the-human-spirit-is-OK ethos has done much to make Britain, Germany, France, etc, etc, fairer and more equitable places to live. However, its demolition of BLUE controls has allowed RED to bring in indulgence and excess on a massive scale. Near-hardcore porn on evening TV, ultra-violent video games being sold to children, binge-drunk teenagers throwing up all over town centres on weekend nights, the unstoppable rise in drug abuse and the street gang violence that goes with it, the epidemics of teenage pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, the calamitous rise in divorce rates, etc, etc, etc, can all be attributed, in part at least, to GREEN humanistic intentions throwing open the floodgates to RED excess.
Most of which is anathema to BLUE thinking.
And that’s not to just BLUE Muslim thinking. Christian and Jewish fundamentalists – whose thinking is equally BLUE – are equally appalled at what they see as ‘a tide of filth and sleaze’ engulfing their countries. Only there aren’t that huge numbers of fundamentalist Christians and Jews in Western Europe whereas the Muslim population is, for the time being at least, growing substantially.
On the basis of Samuel Gaertner et al’s Common In-Group Identity Model (1993), the fundamentalists of all religions might join with each other to attack the secularists before PURPLE tribalism and BLUE’s insistence on adhering to the ‘One Right Way’ turns them on each other, as per Henri Tajfel & John Turner’s Social Identity Theory (1979).
However, the BLUE of the Christian churches is so weak – so degraded by GREEN assaults – that Muslim BLUE might actually perceive the Christian churches to be on the side of sin and indulgence rather than righteousness and morality – effectively demonstrating the Assimilation-Contrast Effect. Ie: any deviation from the most extreme position is a betrayal of the extreme.
This BLUE certitude in absolute, God-given laws may help explain the small but consistent number of people converting to Islam – around 5,000 per year, according to Jerome Taylor & Sarah Morrison (2011). In a godless, anything-goes kind of society, BLUE certitude offers boundaries. To use religious imagery, in a sea of uncertainty, you have a rock of certainty to cling to. Thus, BLUE rigid Islam has an appeal for some that wishy-washy anything-goes GREEN Christianity doesn’t.
Of course, some of that BLUE certainty that can appear to make Islam so attractive to some is, to a degree at least, illusory. Just as there are sects within sects in Christianity, so there are sects within sects in Islam – each purporting to have more of the ‘truth’ than the others and giving credence to different Hadith. In reality, it’s nothing like as simple as Sunni vs Shia – though, at the time of writing, the sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict threatens to consume the entire Middle East (and way beyond!) in simplistic Sunni vs Shia. But, at least, the for-certain BLUE of Islam – of whichever sect or sub-sect – is yet to be compromised seriously by anything-goes GREEN.
So, for those who need certainty, some form of Islam may be a better bet than most forms of Christianity.
Islamification means change
As Moosavi says, “Islam, whether to the liking of European Governments or not, has become a major part of the European landscape.”
Thus, short of electing totalitarian governments on the basis of somehow deporting or otherwise getting rid of immigrants and immigrant-derived populations, Western Europe has got what it’s got. At 4.8% the UK Muslim population is just short of being statistically significant nationally; but, when looked at in terms of concentrated populations – eg: Tower Hamlets (34.5%) and Newham (32%) – they are highly significant. Conrad Hackett of the Pew Center cites 2010 figures of Muslims comprising 5.8% of the German population and 7.5% of the French – both statistically significant. This means the numbers are too large to be ignored and so cannot be treated as abnormal and/or marginal.
Of course, Eastern Europe has a much lower Muslim population – with the exception of Russia whose 10% Muslim population is mainly located in the south and south-west (Volga-Ural region and the Northern Caucasus). In the course of history, those countries never had African, American or Asian empires but were themselves in and out of the Russian and Soviet empires at various times. Thus, the ethnic compositions of those states has tended to remain strongly Caucasian and/or Slavic as they have not had large waves of immigrants from North Africa and Asia. Although they all now have democratic electoral systems and several are members of the EU, the refugee crisis of Summer 2015 has exposed a wide values gap between East and West. As reported by The Guardian’s Ian Traynor, Hungary’s outspoken right-wing prime minister Viktor Orbán has perhaps best summed up Eastern Europe’s position, saying: “This is not a European problem. They all want to go to Germany. Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Or is it not already and in itself alarming that Europe’s Christian culture is barely in a position to uphold Europe’s own Christian values?”
Orbán is projecting a PURPLE/BLUE vMEME harmonic of Hungarian/Christian nationalism – his RED building up his own power in this mlral like an old-fashioned demagogue. But Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, etc, are doing their best to keep the Muslim refugees out – meaning they won’t have to accommodate the changes a substantial minority of Muslims is going to bring about.
Eastern Europe may be hell-bent on avoiding that effect but its PURPLE/BLUE ethos contrasting with the ORANGE/GREEN of Western Europe is likely to mean trouble for the EU as an entity in the future. Alan Tonkin’s groundbreaking analysis, The EU: an Organisation divided by Values, all too clearly outlined the values gap between North and South in the EU. Now, the refugee crisis has exposed a further faultline, between East and West in the EU’s troubled structure.
Back in the late 1950s the British and French politicians and business people who facilitated the first waves of immigration from their former colonies – as the Germans encouraged ‘guest workers’ from Turkey – appear, in typical 1st Tier fashion, to have had little or no appreciation of the effects of importing large numbers of migrants, often with different religious beliefs and cultural norms. There seems to have been little forward thinking about how the immigrants would affect their host countries’ social and cultural life.
Initially it was often the norm for the indigenous white majorities to be openly racist towards the ethnic minorities. A whole slew of authorities, such as Zita Holbourne et al (2010) and Natalie Simmons (2011), have written about the trials and tribulations of growing up as a member of an ethnic minority. Personally, as a young teenager in the 1960s, I remember it being perfectly ‘normal’ for people to use words like ‘nigger’, ‘coon’, ‘sambo’ and ‘Paki’ and to openly discriminate against blacks and Asians. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Zulfi Hussain told me of horrific racial abuse he and fellow Asian teenagers suffered in a Bradford secondary school in the 1970s – see the Blog: Yesterday I met Zulfi Hussain MBE.
Things have got better. Even Holbourne et al concede: “…the development of policies and wider awareness of laws meant that people became concerned with the repercussions of being racist. Plus popular culture embraced the music, food and fashions of black people. Slowly we appeared on TV and began to hold prominent positions in all aspects of society. Mixed relationships grew and the NF [National Front] went quiet.” GREEN egalitarianism, backed by BLUE laws, triumphed over PURPLE tribalism and pushed its overt displays of racism into the shadowy worlds of neo-Fascism. However, PURPLE tribalism hasn’t gone away. As Holbourne et al note: “…under the surface racism was simmering.”
In seeking to understand why French citizens slaughtered French citizens on 13 November, Erik Bleich highlights racism and the marginalisation of North African immigrants into ghettoes on the outskirts of Paris. High unemployment, poverty and deprivation, drugs and gang culture all, in Bleich’s view, create the life conditions for some to be radicalised.
If the racism of the majority has only been partly dealt with, the ethos of Multiculturalism, which produced the anti-discriminatory legislation and a public veneer of equality, also – as discussed in David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT… – led to a decrease in acculturation and worsened the failure to integrate. Why take on the norms and values of majority culture when your own ethnic group’s culture is deemed equally valid and possibly even better? The PURPLE vMEME will always favour its own tribe and seek safety in belonging with its fellows. Thus, unwittingly Multiculturalism fosters separatism and tribal elitism – my tribe’s way is better than yours. (Again, in accordance with Social Identity Theory.)
Multiculturalism has allowed immigration to change Western European societies, both directly (as in population demographics and pressure on public services) and indirectly (as in different values, norms and traditions contrast and sometimes openly conflict with those of the host peoples). However, it can be argued – as I did in David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT… that Multiculturalism has brought benefits eg: “Britain is not the land of white anglo culture it was 40 years ago. A walk along the high street of most towns will reveal a plethora of Asian, Chinese and Thai restaurants and takeaways – with the occasional West Indian or North African nestled in between them. These establishments couldn’t stay in business without substantial patronage from amongst the white majority.”
In other words, Brits (and other Europeans) like some – many? – aspects of the way social life has changed as a result of immigration.
However, if Multiculturalism has produced a divided society populated by lots of different ethnic identities – though with some clear benefits – then what should a post-Multicultural society be like and how far should Islamification go?
If we accept that immigration has happened and changed Western Europe and its effects are irreversible short of massive-scale Fascistic ethnic cleansing, then Muslims (and other minority groups) need to be encouraged to engage with the political process to campaign for some of the things that are more important to them. As Moosavi writes: “The large number of Muslim residents, most of whom are citizens who hold a British passport, are entitled to vote and pay their taxes, should be respected as a significant part of the nation who may have unique needs, but who also have a unique contribution to make to the nation.”
Muslims raising their concerns about certain aspects of European societies and getting the impression their concerns are being taken seriously is an important key to what might be termed ‘integration-with-diversity’…but ‘being taken seriously’ inevitably means some degree of action.
And would it be such a bad thing if Islam gave European societies back some of their BLUE? Would it be better if…
- Pornography was a little harder to access?
- Children showed more respect to their parents, teachers and other adults?
- Prison sentences and prison conditions were harsher?
- Child molesters were severely punished?
- Cold-blooded murderers were executed?
- If people in general obeyed the law more?
Many Europeans (myself included) would probably find the prospect of full-scale Sharia law totally abhorrent – but some BLUE discipline to balance out the RED/GREEN excesses in the kinds of areas discussed would probably be welcomed by a majority right across the diverse communities of Western Europe
The issue of addressing the views and needs of Muslims as a key to enabling them to feel more they are part of British society – and the changes that will mean for all of us – is something mainstream politicians seem to be fighting shy of.
By avoiding the issue – as they did so long with immigration – the mainstream politicians leave the discussion to the extremists.