A recent survey shows that over half of British Muslims want to integrate fully into British society, even though there’s no such thing according to Margaret Thatcher.
What I like about the survey is that, while 93 per cent are strongly attached to Britain, an almost identical number, 94 per cent, either aren’t sure al-Qaeda had anything to do with 9/11 or are sure it didn’t.
However, I’d rather not contemplate this overlap, nor indeed the validity of such surveys. I want to concentrate on the positive: more than half of British Muslims want to be British first and Muslims second.
That means adopting the customs of the host nation, and I’m happy to see that for once it’s a footballer who sets a bright example to follow.
Manchester City’s midfielder Yaya Touré isn’t even British – he plays his international football for Ivory Coast and has only lived here for six years. Yet Yaya is so eager to fit in that a couple of days ago he was done for drinking and driving.
Welcome to England, Yaya! Now get yourself thrown out of a couple of night clubs a few hours before kick off, punch a bouncer en route, and your application for British citizenship, should you choose to submit one, will be fast-tracked. Use me as a reference.
What adds a slight piquancy to the situation is that Yaya is a devout Muslim. In fact, two years ago, citing his faith, he refused to accept a bottle of champagne customarily awarded to the Man of the Match.
There are two possibilities here. One, in the intervening two years Yaya has travelled farther down the road to integration, all the way to the destination of a drink-driving charge. Two, his disdain for bubbly was a public gesture of defiance, while in private he was integrated all along.
If so, this is yet more grist to the mill of rabid right-wingers who maliciously claim that a Muslim can be a good Englishman only if he isn’t a good Muslim. Moreover, they aver, and I hope you’re sitting down, that Islam is inherently at odds with Britishness, what with the Koran’s 300 verses calling for violence towards Jews, Christians and other infidels.
How dare they claim such incendiary rubbish when there’s a survey showing that over half of British Muslims are dying to become integrated, even if that means dying of cirrhosis?
Those extremists don’t have a leg to stand on. Or rather wouldn’t, if the aforementioned survey were the only study on offer. Alas, it isn’t.
There’s also the upcoming report by Dame Louise Casey, identified as the government cohesion tsar. I have several issues with that job description.
First, if we insist on using Russian titles to describe British officials, it should be ‘tsarina’, not ‘tsar’. Yes, I realise we mustn’t be gender-specific on pain of ostracism at least, but political correctness hadn’t yet arrived at the time when either title was common currency.
Second, it sounds as if Dame Louise’s remit might be cohesion of the government, which would be a good idea, considering the non-stop bickering in the cabinet. But let’s not be pedantic: I know what the title means.
Dame Louise is to promote integration, mainly of the Muslim community. Yet her report will say that, though we indeed have Muslim communities, some of them are rather less integrated than the honorary Englishman Yaya Touré.
Apparently, thousands of Muslims inhabiting Islamic ghettos in places like Blackburn, Bradford or Dewsbury successfully combat their strong urge to integrate. In fact, many have only a vague notion of what country they live in.
Inhabiting a world circumscribed by Muslim housing estates, schools, papers and TV channels, they don’t realise all Britain isn’t quite like that.
According to those who’ve read the report, “Certain Muslims, because they are in these communities and go to Muslim schools, think Britain is a Muslim country. They think 75 per cent of the country is Muslim.”
The actual proportion is 4.8 per cent, but that’s an easy mistake to make. For example, going to my local Sunday market near Parson’s Green I sometimes wonder if I’m actually in France. Most customers are resident Frenchmen, who are profusely grateful when I supply French translations for such incomprehensible English words as ‘parsnip’ and ‘swede’.
The French diet doesn’t typically include winter vegetables, while the Muslim diet in those northern enclaves apparently doesn’t include anything British. Integration isn’t cohesive enough, or else cohesion isn’t sufficiently integrated.
For example, the chief inspector of schools has identified 21 predominantly Muslim schools in Birmingham where there are no white pupils at all. Nearly half of those schools are “less than good”, which is the government for lousy.
A Whitehall source says: “The report will say that we are in a vicious circle where some institutions are so wrongfully interpreting their version of political correctness that they are gifting the far right.”
Much as one objects to the use of ‘gift’ as a verb, the source has a point. If the government does nothing to prevent the perception of so many Muslims becoming a reality, “the far right” might – and I wouldn’t want to predict the consequences.
Meanwhile, here’s to you, Yaya. You’re on the right track, mate.