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HomeCulture WarIntegrate but don’t assimilate – how Muslims follow orders

Integrate but don’t assimilate – how Muslims follow orders


IN 2011, while visiting Germany, Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a crowd of Muslim migrants living in Germany (and in Europe in general) to ‘integrate’ into their home’s society, but not ‘assimilate’. Erdogan’s exact words were, ‘Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don’t assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture and identity.’

Did that include, I wonder, the right to deprive them of jihad, honour killings, female genital mutilation, forcing women to wear full burkha, forming grooming gangs or banning free speech?

In the 13 years since Erdogan’s speech, there appear to be many prominent Muslims in the UK as well as Germany who have not forgotten his orders. Indeed they abide by them.

It is more than a semantic debate. These two words, integrate and assimilate, have different meanings, yet they are tossed around interchangeably by politicians and talking heads all the time. They have also been politicised. Therefore some definition of terms is in order. 

The printed Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines integrate as ‘bring together parts to form a whole’ and specifically with regard to people ‘bring racially or culturally differentiated peoples into equal membership of a society or system’. The online definition, however, politicises it: ‘give or cause to give members of all racial, religious, and ethnic groups an equal opportunity to belong to, be employed by, be customers of or vote in (an organisation, place of business, city, state, etc)’, its emphasis being on one-way rights. 

The Shorter Oxford definition of assimilate is to ‘absorb and incorporate’, ‘make and be like’, ‘act in accordance with’. There is no mention of the ‘dominant group’ that you find in the online definition, which is: ‘bring into conformity with the customs, attitudes, etc, of a dominant social group, nation, or the like; adapt or adjust’. Woke ideology has tarnished these not unreasonable concepts of assimilation with negative connotations such as ‘forced assimilation’ or alleged ‘increased discrimination and violence’ or as ‘damaging to people’s self-esteem and confidence’, on which the left has waxed lyrical.

So in 2009 London mayor Sadiq Khan was to refer to moderate Muslims in England as ‘Uncle Toms‘ (an American slight which originated in slave times to describe an extremely subservient black person). Seven years later, Khan integrated impressively by becoming mayor of England’s capital, yet under a guise of equality he sides with those whose views are incompatible with a free society while slandering those who have assimilated into said society. Last year he famously said (and then withdrew) his giveaway comment that white families don’t represent real Londoners. Erdogan must be proud.

In the meantime Britain has tolerated some of the most extreme  Muslims. Anjem Choudary is one of the most widely known thanks to his many appearances on the BBC, CNN, Sky News and other news channels, and profiles in most newspapers. Quite the integration. However, his assimilation into British norms and customs is lacking. Choudary has said quite inaccurately that Britain is dar al-harb (a place that persecutes people for practising Islam). His perverted logic follows, that therefore, as a Muslim, he and other Islamists are obligated to ‘take the authority away from the people who have it and implement the sharia’. Choudary predicts that sharia law will replace democracy in Britain in 15 to 20 years. Turkish PM Erdogan, who has financed mosque building across the West, anxiously awaits.

Like Sadiq Khan, Mothin Ali has integrated into British society through politics. He recently won the Gipton and Harehills seat on Leeds City Council for the Green Party. However, while celebrating his victory, Ali stood in front of a Palestinian flag, not the Union Jack. During his acceptance speech, Ali said it was a win for Gaza. Finally, he proclaimed ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is Great’ in Arabic).  Ali is following Erdogan’s orders to the T. 

This is not to say that in order to assimilate, these men should or need to stop practising Islam. Britain, like most of the West, has long upheld freedom of faith and conscience. The issue arises when they push their religion into the public space and override current laws with their undemocratic Islamist doctrines.

Assimilation is part and parcel of the bargain of entering and living in a different culture. The West is particularly tolerant – toleration is a defining feature of Western civilisation with its limits defined in law. But now it is being taken full advantage of. The risk is of immigrants deciding en masse they need not bother to conform with the customs and attitudes of their adopted home, then that society ends up with a segregation of subcultures at best, or more likely, at worst, sectarian conflict and violence. I would prefer neither.

I can hear my detractors now, declaring: ‘But Khan and Choudary and Ali are not immigrants: they’re British-born!’ Yes, and the fact that one could be born and reared in the same country without ever assimilating to its traditions and norms should raise even more alarms.

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Thomas Lane
Thomas Lane
Thomas Lane is a writer who lives and works in New York City.

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