Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yes, we Muslims must be braver and do more to integrate says Labour MP after former equalities chief's call provokes furious backlash

  • Labour's Khalid Mahmood called for more Muslims to challenge attitudes
  • He said women's groups were doing so and urged more men to be 'brave'
  • It comes after ex-equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips issued a warning
  • He said Muslim communities could become 'a nation within a nation' 

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, pictured, said more Muslim men should be 'brave' and challenge 'unacceptable attitudes'
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, pictured, said more Muslim men should be 'brave' and challenge 'unacceptable attitudes'
Urgent calls for Britain to adopt a more ‘muscular’ approach to integrating Muslims into society triggered a furious row last night.

Former equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips urged Muslims to change their values and behaviour, saying the UK risks ‘sacrificing a generation of young British people’ if hardline Islamic values are not challenged

His call, in yesterday’s Daily Mail, was backed by MPs, although it also provoked a backlash from community groups who accused him of ‘stigmatising and scapegoating Muslims’.

Labour’s Khalid Mahmood, England’s first Muslim MP, said: ‘A lot of people are challenging unacceptable attitudes. 

'There are women’s groups doing this.

 I only wish more men in some communities were able to be as brave.’

But he said successive governments going back to the 1980s had pursued policies which had led to the ‘ghetto-isation’ of Muslim communities.

‘Trevor Phillips is right in terms of saying we must get the community to integrate far more,’ he said. 

‘But a lack of planning going back decades means they have not had a chance to move out of their areas.’

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee which is investigating extremism, said: ‘There should be no no-go areas in the UK.

 The first generation of migrants came here because it was the most open and tolerant country in the world.

‘We should celebrate different cultures and religions. However, we are clearly not doing enough to challenge those who wish to undermine our values. 

'It is these values that hold us together. We should be tirelessly promoting them.’

However, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it ‘did not recognise’ Mr Phillips’ analysis, which was based on a Channel 4 poll for a documentary.

It also questioned the decision to survey some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK with a disproportionately high number of people with a Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnicity.

It comes amid fears of a divide in society. Pictured is a muslim woman in a niqab selling ice cream to a child in Dewsbury (file picture)
It comes amid fears of a divide in society. Pictured is a muslim woman in a niqab selling ice cream to a child in Dewsbury (file picture)

‘Choosing specifically to poll in areas that are poor and more religiously conservative, skews the results and makes it indicative of these areas and not of British Muslims nationally,’ the MCB said. 

‘We recognise that Muslims, like people in other faiths, must reconcile their deeply held beliefs and the evolving norms of our British society.

‘But this cannot be done by stigmatising and scapegoating Muslims – we are in no doubt the presentation of these results will be seized by some to create anxieties. 

'The vast majority of Muslims are appreciative of their nation and what it offers, particularly in the respect of religious plurality. 

'To single out Muslims in this study may be deemed as courageous by the establishment, but in our view it will do nothing but harden attitudes on all sides.’ 

In his Daily Mail article, Mr Phillips – former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – expressed concern at the growing chasm between British Muslims and their compatriots on issues such as marriage, segregation, freedom of speech and justifying violence in defence of religion.

Trevor Phillips on integration: 'Single set of basic values'
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He demanded an end to the ‘complacency’ of senior figures, including politicians, turning a blind eye to ‘appalling misdemeanours’, which contributed to sexual grooming scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale.

He said British Muslims were becoming a ‘nation within a nation’ – with many holding different standards and wanting to lead separate lives in ‘ghetto’ housing estates.

The Channel 4 poll, for which ICM interviewed 1,081 British Muslims aged 18 and over, found that four per cent – which would equate to more than 100,000 of the nearly 3million British Muslims – said they had sympathy for suicide bombers who claimed they were fighting injustice.

Two in three would not tell police if they knew that someone was involved in supporting terrorism in Syria. Nearly a quarter wanted Sharia law in parts of the country.

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