Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Leicester is a Bicultural, Not a Multicultural, City

First posted: 25 April 2010

Muslims Feel at Home in Leicester

Am I being cynical, or am I just missing something? A report on Leicester (itself reported in the Leicester Mercury) says that most Leicester Muslims ‘feel right at home’ in Leicester. Umm. Perhaps that’s because "Leicester will soon become the first city to have more non-whites than whites". Perhaps that’s also because there are over 30,000 Muslims in Leicester. Of course Muslims will feel at home in a place which will soon be a majority-Muslim city. Of course they feel at home in a city which includes 30,000 other Muslims. In a sense, that’s the point. Muslims do not feel at home in cities which are not soon-to-be Muslim-majority cities. They do not feel at home in cities and towns in which they are not a sizable minority. So it is not actually saying much to say that Leicester Muslims ‘feel right at home’ in Leicester. This is like saying Scottish people feel at home in Scotland or Muslims feel at home in Pakistan.

The report says that many Leicester Muslims "possessed a strong British identity and a sense of belonging to the city". That last clause is not every helpful if we bear in mind what I’ve already said. That is, there is no surprise in the fact that Leicester Muslims feel "a sense of belonging" to a city which will have a Muslim majority in less than ten years time. 
As for ‘British identity’. We are always being told, by Leftist and liberal-left commentators, that the notion of Britishness is pretty vague and non-determinate; yet it is used in this report without any specification or definition. After all, perhaps today British identity includes an obsessive love for diversity or an unquestioning tolerance of Islam. In other words, it is quite possible that Leicester’s Muslims define or see Britishness in a way that’s very unlike other people’s definitions of Britishness.

Can we make that much of ‘Muslim assimilation’ or ‘integration’? For example, an 11 year old, Aamenah Mulla, tells the Leicester Mercury the following: "I really like it here. I feel part of the city."

Again, it won’t be hard for a young Muslim to ‘feel part’ of a city with 30,000 more fellow Muslims and which will have more Muslims than any other group in the future. Feeling part of Leicester, in that context, is no surprise and it tells us little about the attitude Muslims have to Britain, its institutions and ways of life generally.

The Report

As with most surveys or reports, you must be a little sceptical about the motives and ideological biases which motive the researchers. In fact the very name of the group which did this report, the Open Society Institute, sort of tells you where it is coming from. Clearly an ‘open society’ is a multicultural society. At least according to the Open Society Institute. So it's no surprise that OSI "praised Leicester’s vibrant faith communities". That very cliché tells us what we need to know about the OSI's prejudices. 
For example, whoever used the term ‘faith communities’ until very recently? No one. Now it is de rigour. We cannot speak about ‘religions’ anymore. We must use the term ‘faith communities’. You wonder why this term is always used nowadays. It will have at least something to do with some politically-correct stance or other on these issues. These people really believe that by changing the words people use, that they can then change how people think and act. The PC Thought Police may well be right about this. How frightening!

Again, of course Muslims ‘feel at home’ in Leicester. It would be hard not to when one realises that "17 of the city’s 54 councillors are from an ethnic minority background". Does the report really mean from a Muslim background? I bet that description would be nearer to the truth.

Let’s not mince words here. According to the Leicester Mercury, at least one of the ‘researchers’ was a Muslim. His name is Nazia Hussain. He is described as the ‘co-author’ of the report. This may mean that only one other person was responsible for the report. And if that other person was also Muslim, then this is a Muslim report on the Muslims of Leicester.

This report also says that "the depiction of and reporting on Muslims by the local media is more positive than in the national press". That is no doubt true. But can saying only good things about Muslims and Islam be seen, in and of itself, as a positive thing? What about the Muslim ghettoes in Leicester? What about the strong tradition of Islamism in Leicester and the many Islamist organisations (which have often been noted by the press and by various other writers)? After all, doesn’t Leicester hold the largest ‘Islamic Conference’ in the UK?

So the Leicester local press is ‘better’ than the ‘national press’ simply because it only says good things about Muslims and Islam. Is that the reason why the local press in Leicester is ‘positive’ towards Muslims? No doubt it is.

The large Muslim population of Leicester, which is known to many British people, may account for this strange case of sweetness and light in Leicester. Thus is it really accurate for the report to talk about Leicester providing "a powerful example of how ethnic and cultural diversity can be managed well and turn into an asset"? That sounds dandy. But do they really mean "ethnic and cultural diversity"? Don’t they really mean Muslims and non-Muslims? In a city with over 30,000 Muslims, I simply doubt that any other ethnic or religious group contributes that much to Leicester’s ‘ethnic and cultural diversity’. People are always talking about the ‘ethnic and cultural diversity’, therefore the ‘multiculturalism’, of this or that town or city in the UK. The fact is that they are often only talking about biculturalism - one example of ethnic and cultural diversity – Muslims. They are not talking about multicultural diversity in Leicester and, say, Bradford. They are talking about bicultural cities and towns – with only Muslims and non-Muslims!

That may explain why one of the Muslim residents, Farida Patel, said:

"There's a real community spirit in Leicester and I don't think life is the same elsewhere, from visiting Muslims living in Birmingham and London."

That reference to Birmingham and London in a sense let’s the cat out of the bag. Muslims are the biggest minority in Leicester. More accurately, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims are. Thus most Muslims ‘feel at home’ in Leicester. However, as Farida Patel makes clear, the situation is not quite so good in ‘Birmingham and London’. Why is that? Because London and Birmingham are multicultural cities. Leicester is largely a bicultural city. The very fact that Muslims constitute such a large part of Leicester helps explain the relative lack of community problems and why Leicester Muslims ‘feel at home’ there. Ho could Muslims not feel at home, as Muslims, in Pakistan or Egypt? But they may well feel not feel at a home, as Farida Patel says, in London and Birmingham; or at the least in many parts of those two cities. Not only that, but the Muslims populations of London and Birmingham are not uniformly Pakistani and Bangladeshi, as they mainly are in Leicester (as well as in places like Bradford).

However, many Leicester Muslims, and the Muslim researchers, are not completely happy with Leicester. They want more from that city. Nazia Hussain says that the city council needs to do more to encourage integration and that the Leicestershire police must recruit more Muslims. Will these things help create a better and more multicultural Leicester? Or will they simply show us that Leicester is becoming more and more of a Muslim city? Being a Muslim city is far from being the same as being a multicultural city. The problem is that many councillors and others fail to make that distinction between a city’s being more multicultural and a city’s being more Islamic or Muslim. Thus one day if they wake up and find that they are living under sharia law in Leicester, or anywhere else in the UK, they will stupidly see this as a triumph for multiculturalism; not the triumph for Islam which it really is. Other multiculturalists will eventually see the difference between multiculturalism and Islamisation; but by the time they do so, it will be too late.

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