Note to Ms Ahmed: Britain is a European country. Our culture is, and always has been, European. If you don't like that, then Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world, Gatwick is also pretty big, and I'm sure that at one of those you can find a nice cheap flight to the Islamic hellhole of your choice. But please have the courtesy to refrain from demanding the cultural deracination and Islamification of this country.
A GOVERNMENT minister believes that the answer to furthering the integration of the Muslim community into wider British society could be for them to share more coffee and biscuits with their white neighbours.
John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills was addressing a meeting in Bournemouth organised by the Fabian Society on citizenship and integration.Zareen Roohi Ahmed of the British Muslim Forum told the meeting that the problems often stemmed from a "massive Eurocentric" view and said she hoped that the government would be pushing for a "less Eurocentric culture".
She explained: "Asians would say that the main barrier is a lack of trust, mistrust among young Asians and past supporters of the Labour Party who are feeling let down. In the recent past Labour has been more Islamaphobic than most of the other political parties.
"Indeed in Dudley, in the West Midlands where I was born Labour seems uncomfortable with Muslims and it recently abandoned its support to support the BNP instead. It has left that community feeling dejected. However, Gordon Brown's tone at the Labour Conference is encouraging and we hope to develop it."
Another issue she said was the life chances for young people and crime was a big issue.
She added: "We are not saying focus all your attention on the Muslim communities we are saying let's have targeted provision where there is a need. Do not Islamise everything as most issues are not related to the faith."
The government, she said, could show it wanted to help the community by improving access to services and letting Muslims know they should not feel isolated.
So, to sum up Ms Ahmed's argument: Muslims have lots of problems integrating, but they are to blame for absolutely none of these. Rather, these problems are caused by evil Islamophobes who make Muslims "feel isolated". The solution is to improve access to services. But only for Muslims, who are, of course, always the innocent victims of everyone else's wickedness. More fawning over Muslims by the government is also much-needed.
"We have to reassure Muslims they are not the problem. The issue of radical elements is as much a problem for them as it is for the wider society."But, of course, Muslims are the problem. And the issue of "radical elements" is not "as much a problem for them as it is for the wider society". Rather, it is a far greater problem for them than for every other group in society. Because no one can seriously dispute that extremist views are far more common among Muslims than they are among the general population. 40% of Muslims in Britain want to see the widespread introduction of Sharia law, for example. 36% of UK-based Muslims aged 16 to 24 believe that Muslims who convert away from Islam should face the death penalty. Do you think that a comparable number of young Christians feel the same way? Equally, the majority of non-Muslims do not subscribe to unevidenced conspiracy theories: most Muslims do. And of course, the publication of a cartoon of most religious figures - no matter how offensive - does not commonly earn either the artist or the publishers death threats, nor does it incite rioting in the streets. The publication of a cartoon of Mohammed does. And then there are the terrorists - Muslims account for just 3% of the UK population, but, funnily enough, they seem to account for a rather higher proportion of terrorist offences.
I would suggest that it is precisely these things, together with the apparent refusal of many Muslims to make any real effort to integrate into the society into which they have come as immigrants, that cause problems for Muslims (and, indeed, for everyone else). If John Denham is serious about trying to get Muslims to integrate into British society, then it is going to require more than just telling everyone to have coffee and biscuits, and play nice. It is going to require Muslims to ditch their support for Sharia law, to stop being perpetually outraged and offended, to refrain from constantly demanding preferential treatment, to accept and abide by the native culture of this country, and to take action against the small but nonetheless far from negligible number of their coreligionists who are willing to use or support violence in order to further their politico-religious ends. Doing all of these things should make long-term peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims possible. Whether all of this can be done is, however, far from certain.
Hat-tip: Dhimmi Watch