I have recently started up reading more about right wing ideology and watching related YouTube clips because I am genuinely interested to learn not just the present political context but also the historic context that got us where we are. My research is a working progress and I do not claim to have a complete/coherent perspective on the issue but at the same time I cannot ignore commenting on some of the flawed/basic narratives thrown out there by people whom you would think should know better. But that’s OK, it’s an opportunity for a conversation to be had. One such materials is a youtube clip (link below) of an interview entitled Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain by Ed Husain. I will not go into the details of the interview (link below) except to point to areas of disagreement so here goes;
- Islamic Culture & Its Incompatibility with Western Culture: There is no such thing as Islamic culture; there is Middle Eastern culture in the same way as there is Latino culture, European culture etc. The differences between these are more related to social norms rather than religious teachings/traditions linked directly to such traditions. For example you will find within Middle Eastern culture base people of all Abrahamic faiths (christians, muslims and jews) with their different unique sects. In other words cultures in many cases transcends religious beliefs. So let’s first get that out of the way.
- Problems with extremist literature preached in 40% of British mosques: No beef there. While I do not know the precise percentage of mosques in this category this is definitely a problem that needs to be resolved; this while emphasizing (which Mr. Husain conveniently missed) that the majority of Muslims in Britain do not subscribe to these teachings – which is the other side of the story that needs to be told.
- Pro-Extremist Pakistani Muslims vs. Pro-Secular Indian Muslims Who should be welcomed in Britain: Without stereotyping or generalizing between muslims in these 2 states, what happened with the billions of other secular Muslims living in Europe, North Africa and Asia? Are they also welcome to Britain or are they not culturally compatible with European culture for you? Is this an India/Pakistan related issue? Does BREXIT as a predominantly Immigration driven cause translate to a preferential migration policy of non-European applicants to Britain rather than native or fully integrated European ones…….really……does that make any sense? In fact as mentioned in many previous posts that’s precisely what BREXIT is about the switching partnerships from ones on our doorstep with shared values/interests to ones thousand of miles away that have their unique sets of interests that don’t necessarily intersect with our own – what a sham! Care about your sovereignty? Protect/develop your major industries (like your auto industry) don’t sell out – be a major influencer within your most important regional partner you have (the EU) don’t run out. In short STOP blaming the EU & Migrants for your own failures – that’s sloppy and self-defeating.
- Multicultural Britain Led to Mono Cultural Enclaves: To an extent I do so agree but it’s not only about varying cultures but also about migrants of same country (European or otherwise) tend to live within close proximity and probably socialize more. But focusing on the cultural aspect alone would you say this is a problem of government planning/integration or are people themselves supposed to automatically follow a specific pattern to avoid creating these cultural enclaves? So the message from this end is stop blaming the public for government failures; this is the pattern for far-right xenophobes/extremists either intentionally/conveniently (particularly by politicians & media) or through ignorance to make a point sound valid when it really isn’t.
- The Assumption that All Cultures are the Same is Wrong: Again although Mr. Husain mistakenly confuses religion with culture in that segment of the conversation, you must say that by definition cultures are unique some have more similarity to others but they are indeed unique – so no rocket science there. If on the other hand you’re suggesting as many right-wing proponents have that some cultures as superior to others period irrespective of what context you’re talking about – well guess what; like it or not you are through your heritage of a different culture yourself and I would have thought you would notice and take it with pride not ditch it altogether for whatever excuse you may come up with. If merely being secular is sufficient to elevate you to a superior culture – well in that case I’d have to ask whether people around the world living in secular states are equal culturally? Perhaps you mean “values” NOT “cultures” and values do transcend cultures as you may/may not know. Oh and by the way Homophobia is NOT a cultural thing but more of an attitude driven by personal beliefs/values; so please stop this “Culture” crap or “Trap” if you prefer.
- The Concept Integration Is Failing (as I understand from conversation): Agree. Integration does not happen by itself. It starts with a viable immigration system, them moves towards helping migrates fully integrate with society, understand/respect its value system (even it’s dress code in my opinion) while ensuring on the other hand that society is cured through special programs from xenophobic ideologies perpetrated by some as an excuse to vet out frustrations for government failures at a multitude of levels. In other words Integration is a 2 way street with different expectations on both sides otherwise we end up where we are – a broken system. Let’s begin to look at successful integration models in Europe and Scandinavia to see if we can learn some lessons from them that we can build upon. If we really care for this country beyond politics & ideologies and we have no choice but to fix this mess we find ourselves in for us and for future generations.
- We Need Reasonable Numbers of a Particular Immigrant Group For Them to Accept to Integrate: Good point but one can reasonably argue that if you start going down the road of developing an immigration policy based on religious beliefs or other physical factors rather than the ability to fully integrate into society this is can be construed as borderline racism (or maybe just pure racism under the hood) and what does that say about our value system. More importantly as mentioned in point above integration is a mechanism implemented by the government not something that takes places automatically and if for any reason immigrants fail to integrate citizenship cannot proceed.
- We Need to Ask People of Migrant Backgrounds Where they Cherish Our Values and If NOT We Need to Send Them Home? Now this is appalling listening this particularly from some one of migrant heritage because essentially what he’s proposing is 2 class citizenship for the country (migrants and natives) with people of migrant background reassessed to ensure they adhere to our values – and why stop there? Ignoring the practical challenge of achieving this “plan” and ensuring it’s applied justly and the legal nightmare surrounding that alone, what this is simply doing (merely as a proposition) is further alienating a large sector of the population and destroying the inner fabric of the society. I can understand an immigration process that ensures as much as possible there is a commitment to our core values but once you’re a citizen of this country it is our responsibility to find creative means to maximize integration efforts – and kicking people out ain’t one of them Mr.Husain. Truly I do not know or like know where the hell you got your academic credentials from but certainly it makes you a big star where right wing media is concerned so enjoy the drive.
Beyond all the above what bothers me the most us the fact that you will find many like Mr. Husain people of migrant heritage that seem to align with far right movements that seek to destroy multiculturalism that they themselves benefited from while supporting at the same time xenophobic arguments – it’s like an African American at the peak of the civil rights struggle in America against racial discrimination in the late 50’s – early 60’s declare his opposition to Martin Luther King’s movement – or in this day/age supported the Trump policies on immigration and beyond. Does trashing their own heritage make them more secure or more “white” not sure but it doesn’t really work that way.
Finally let me just add another bit about Multiculturalism. When looking at Egypt as an example in the early 1900’s you will discover that Egypt – and possibly other countries in the region – was indeed a thriving multicultural society where you had people from many western cultures (Greeks, Armenians, Italians) and many many others living in complete harmony and mixing/marrying into the predominant Egyptian culture (muslims, christians and jews) specifically within the middle class upwards; this was Egypt at its best during the reign of King Farouk and his predecessor (I would encourage searching Youtube clips about the family) – though there was corruption also. Even in the arts you had Egyptian actors/actresses and composers of Polish, Hungarian, Italian and even Austrian heritage. Once this multicultural dream began to evaporate due mainly to the Middle East conflict when many of the foreigner community and jews began to leave the country this along with poor governance gave rise to extremist ideologies which in the mid-1990’s really took hold. It’s actually quite interesting to see group photos of Cairo University faculty students from mid-60’s at 10-20 year intervals which can be found on the Internet to discover how conservative women fashion began to gradually be predominant in this institution. There are political reasons for this as well but the crux of the story is that multiculturalism if properly maintained can be a guarantee against extremist ideologies that threaten societies from within and ensures pragmatic/vibrant vision for any nation and its role in the wider world. Failing to reap the benefits of multiculturalism is a failure in implementation not necessarily philosophy.
So the message from this end is this; let’s work through our problems with a pragmatic solution oriented approach rather following rigid ideological instincts/narratives that may make us feel better but solve nothing but merely exacerbate problems and increases our vulnerability/security. We need to move on and start focusing on many other challenges worthy of our urgent attention like Climate Change, Equality and yes Institutional/Political Reform. We also need to take control of foreign conflicts that are spiraling out of control thanks in no small part to flawed policies/actions we’ve taken present/past otherwise we’ll need to prepare for a Westward Gold-rush the likes that we’ve never experienced in our history as I mentioned in my previous post.
Hope this helps