In 1993 the American Political Scientist Samuel Huntington published an article in the journal Foreign Affairs that argued that the Cold War had been succeeded by a “clash of civilizations”. He identified eight potential rivals, these were (i) Western, (ii) Latin American, (iii) Islamic, (iv) Sinic (Chinese), (v) Hindu, (vi) Orthodox, (vii) Japanese, and (viii) the African. Potentially, all these civilizations could still clash. However, where Huntington appears to have been perceptive is that he predicted the potential class between the West and Islam. It is this clash that is shaping contemporary politics globally, and having a baleful impact on politics here in the UK.
Internationally we see the devastation in Gaza; and the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran should ruin everyone’s sleep. It is one of the many reasons why I believe that the defence cuts undertaken by our current government are nothing short of lunacy.
However, the problem I want to explore today is that of the problem of Islam within a modern western state, specifically Britain. My – admittedly imperfect – understanding of Islam is this: Islam is based on a sacred text whose law may be misapplied but not altered. It defines itself in terms of submission to the sacred text handed by God to the Prophet Mohammed. The Muslim is one who has submitted to the sacred text.
It means that freedoms we take for granted in the west are denied in Islamic countries and children can be shot by fanatics for demanding them. Ironically, as Islam also promises security, most of the world’s refugees are Muslims fleeing from places where their religion is the official doctrine; the charming Abu Qatada is just the most notorious example. By contrast, western civilization is currently defined by its adherence to freedom. (For reasons too long and complex to go into in a blog I think this is a fallacy, and the emphasis on liberty and rights is actually destructive of the true foundations of western civilization. If anyone wants to explore these, then by far the best summary is given in Roger Scruton’s book The West and the Rest.)
Nonetheless, there is a split in our society between the host community and, at the very least, a significant minority of Muslims over core social values. These are issues like ‘honour killings’, female genital mutilation, sexual abuse of non-Muslim children by Muslims and forced marriage. These are problems that do not arise in other ethnic communities in Britain, even those, such as Sikhs and Hindus, from areas in close proximity to the regions where most British Muslims originate. The issue is therefore, one of religion not race.
Nowhere, is this seen more starkly than in the grooming of non-Muslim children for sex by Muslim men. This is not just a problem with white children, Hindu and Sikh groups have also complained to the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, Sue Berelowitz, saying that she has ignored their concerns about Muslim men targeting Hindu and Sikh girls. In fact, in a report published yesterday the prevalence of Muslims in such grooming was ignored despite the fact that 33% of offenders whose ethnicities were known were Asian, mostly British Pakistanis. Only 2% of the population is of Pakistani heritage.
There are also good reasons to believe that the problem is more widespread. A couple of weeks ago I heard a speech from Kris Hopkins the MP for Keighly and Ilkley. No arrests for child grooming have yet been made there, but he was adamant that his area was experiencing severe child exploitation problems. Like others, such as the Sikh Media Monitoring Group, he believes that we are dancing a politically correct tune around the issue rather than dealing with it.
The crux of the problem, that we need to tackle head on, is that Muslim men do not appear to view non-Muslim girls with any respect. That is not surprising, as many British Muslims, particularly from rural areas in Pakistan, have no respect for the society in which they live. In that sense the multiculturalism pursued since Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary in the 60s has failed spectacularly. If we cannot get over to a group of our citizens that child rape is wrong how can we inculcate in them values of civic engagement and patriotism. The answer is we can’t, anyone who has visited northern towns such as Blackburn, Burnley or Bradford knows that they operate under a system of apartheid. There is no integration whatsoever between communities. It cannot be allowed to continue. For their own sakes, as well as the well-being of the wider community Muslims must integrate. To begin with we should accept that multiculturalism has failed and end multilingualism in government departments.
It would be wrong to ban the Burkha, but if people wish to enter banks or government and local government offices it is legitimate to demand that they are removed. Equally, the practice of bringing spouses from Pakistan has to be stopped. All that does is reinforce community separation. However, the thing that would do most to end the apartheid in our communities would be to apply the laws we have and stop treating Muslim communities with kid gloves for fear of being considered racist.