Friday, 4 February 2011

A few questions for Mr Cameron...

“Muslims must embrace our British values” argues David Cameron in a speech delivered in Munich.

Well, I have a few questions for our Prime Minister about this all.

Why the division between Muslim and British?

Perhaps Muslim values and British values are not so different? As a British Muslim, I have found a lot of common ground, on family values, a culture of charity, even stoicism (the ‘stiff upper lip’).

And since we're on the topic, what are ‘British values’? You talk of freedom and equality. These are not just British values, they are Muslim values, they are secular values, they human values. No one would reject them as being virtuous.

But if you try to get more precise than this, we run into problems. The diversity of opinion in Britain, as in any country, precludes making such generalised and grand statements as ‘British values’, unless you include all values held by Britons, the full diversity of them.

I find it uncomfortable how you talk of ‘Muslims’ who must embrace ‘our British values’. I was born in Britain, raised in Britain, educated in Britain. I speak English as well you. I’m not sure why my values, which are born out of my Muslim faith, are not considered ‘British’? Do you not consider me British?

Maybe it's worth remembering that Muslims have been in Britain for centuries, not decades, and have been contributing to British life for just as long.

Intergration is a two-way process. Perhaps it’s time you embraced Muslims as part of Britain?

Has multiculturalism really failed, or are you just being fashionable?

Multiculturalism was the buzz word of the 90s, these days it’s all about ‘intergration’ and ‘community cohesion’.

Buzz words aside, we're really still having the same conversation I think.

There are two sides to multiculturalism. First is the reality, then there is the hope.

The reality is that there different cultures in Britain, these cultures are not just ‘white’ and ‘ethnic’. They are Welsh cultures, Muslim cultures, student cultures, working-class cultures. There is even a discernible ‘rich Oxbridge politician’ culture. They all weave into the fabric of the society we live in. There is no denying it.

Then there is the hope of multiculturalism. This is that these different cultures can interact and engage with each other. That they can find common ground in a shared identity with shared ambitions of the world they want to live in. This is not a two-way conversation, it’s a conversation takes place between lots of groups and cultures, over a long period of time. More than just 30 years.

So perhaps a bit early to call multiculturalism a failure. Especially when it's delivered success in so many areas. Feel free to visit Cardiff for an example. Or Liverpool. Or London. The vibrancy and life of these cities is due to the diversity of those who live there.

You talk of living 'separate lives'. The only ones I find who live 'separate lives' are the super rich, who live in a bubble away from the struggles and concerns of the majority of Britain. Who are so lacking in contact with everyone else they think there is no recession and Brits have 'never had it so good'.

The problems faced by society today have little to do with multiculturalism, which is a scape-goat for social ills caused by poverty, unemployment and disillusionment.

If you really want to solve the problems society faces, you have to be honest about the causes.

Is this about Muslims, or about foreigners? I’m getting a bit confused.

You talk about the need for ‘equality and freedom’, but suddenly you start talking about ‘ensuring immigrants learn to speak English’. Big jump there. Did I miss something?

And then there’s the bit where you say ‘when a white person holds objectionable views – racism, for example – we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn't white, we've been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.’

Okay, we seem to be blurring the lines here a bit. There are plenty of white Muslims out there, have you been too cautious to stand up to them as well? Or only the brown ones? Or are you really just making naïve assumptions of ethnicity and religion based upon skin colour?

Surely you’re more educated and nuanced than that.

Why did you deliver this speech at a European security conference?

Violent extremism is a threat and a danger that should be combated with no hesitations.

But perhaps it’s worth remembering, that out of 294 terrorist attacks in Europe in 2009, only one was carried out by a Muslim.

Someone who didn’t vote for you. Or Nick Clegg for that matter.

NB: At time of publishing this blog, David Cameron had not yet delivered his speech, but speeches are released early to the press. As I'm not a fan of writing in the future tense, since I find it a bit weird and almost prophetic in tone, I've written in the past tense. I do however hope Cameron has a change of heart and decides to deliver a speech on fiscal reduction instead.


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  2. On the flip side of the coin, what does "integration" even mean? Perhaps the people that keep reiterating this phrase should define what integration entails. Do they mean we need to partake in the binge/booze culture? Muslim or not, that's not something to be proud of as a Briton at all. It seems to be something of a joke among some of our other European friends too.

    By the way, those spelling mistakes in the quotes, are they Mr. Cameron's or yours? Judging by the rest of your post, I'm guessing the former...



  3. great post, very true that Muslim are constantly still being seen as only immigrants despite a long British presence.

  4. Moderate, intelligent, peaceable Moslims I am sure abound, and all races, creeds, colours, genders and styles may harbour some like that, but also arcing these spectrums are extremists, nasties and wibberly wobbly pluralists, weathercocks who blow with the winds of their fancy. But for me, it is Christ and Christ on my own terms by faith and Moslims I meet can agree aspects, but trump with their prophet and there we have to agree to disagree... but can we coexist/do that in spirit and truth? I believe the warfare is spiritual and so in war (hate all violence) and peace, Christ versus the rest is the real fight and we work it out/face it daily one way or another in faith, in sorts, out of faith, out of sorts - but do we reckon Christ as God and Supreme or not? I agree many across all spectrums may differ or be found lacking/wanting/hypocrites; but equally, the moments Moslims step outside their insistence on absolute Their Prophet is Supreme or whatnot; then the question is either what do we put in their place or what are they placed in/context/significance/meaning/ascription? Whether I live or die, Mark Chapter 13 verse 31 'Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away' (New International Version/NIV). You may find this summary helpful: At best i can agree and say 'yes'; on rainy days of life I find all humanity needs their own version of this too (pragmatism): Best Wishes and God's Peace for us all.