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Jane Kelly: Getting Muslims to speak out may not aid integration

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It’s not just the EDL who have noticed that Muslims do not play a full role in our society. Twenty per cent of them have never had a job, while the national average is two per cent. Now the Government has decided to try to bring them more fully into British life, with the promise of ‘leadership roles.’

A commission called, ‘The Missing Muslims’ by ‘Citizens UK,’ will publish its findings and recommendations tomorrow afternoon, Monday July 3rd. The charity organises ‘communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good.’

Since 2015, the Commissioners, comprising people from business, academia, politics and faith have been travelling to hearings across the UK to listen to more than 500 hours of testimonies and evidence, detailing the experiences of Muslims and non-Muslims, those once known as Christians.

Chaired by Dominic Grieve, QC, MP, the aim is to, ‘explore how civil society can help unlock British Muslim potential for the benefit of all.’ To try to bring this about, there will be recommendations for mentoring schemes for young Muslims, for instance in industry and engineering.

It promises to be different to anything that has gone before in two ways: asking how the mentoring schemes will apply to women, who at present are often not allowed to work by the older generation in their community. Remarkably, it also acknowledges the problem that many UK MPs have with challenging Islam – that many Muslims are voters.

Dominic Grieve is apparently going to say that a much wider engagement with Muslims is required, and everyone should be allowed to challenge ‘poor mosque governance.’ This is due to many mosques being run by old men. We are also going to be encouraged to openly tackle extremist views.

Apparently and rather touchingly, many Muslims are afraid to express themselves in the public arena because they fear that their beliefs, such as God creating the world in six days, which they hold sacred, will be challenged if not reviled. They are just not prepared for that. They are going to be encouraged to express their most dangerous and disturbing views more openly in exchange for a greater role in public life. It’s hoped that these exchanges will help ‘Millennial Muslims’ emerge from hiding to take their place as teachers and engineers, living equally alongside the rest of us.

This report follows closely on a previous one last year by Dame Louise Casey. She accused public bodies of ignoring potentially divisive religious practices out of the fear of being branded racist. After facing a storm of criticism, led by Lady Warsi, she told the BBC that her problem was about,  ‘Educating men and actually speaking to the imams, and the so-called community leaders.’

She had real problems in trying to do that and her report found that segregation, deprivation and social exclusion were increasing, coinciding with a growth in ‘regressive’ ideologies. She made a practical demand for more help for teachers in Muslim areas, who she said, have to ‘walk a tightrope.’

‘It’s about actually standing by teachers in schools,’  she said, ‘That are day in day out in some of these high-concentration areas having to walk that tightrope between ‘can somebody go on a theatre trip, can somebody play music’ – all of these things – we’re not standing behind them and saying ‘yes, of course you can.’

No one started standing behind them and her work sank without trace. This new push at creating cohesion sounds very interesting but rather ignores the reality of where we are, which is pretty much where we were; most public bodies, including the news networks, even the BBC, are still terrified of being called racist and do not like giving voice to extremists as they tend to create a very negative view of Islam. The reality of bearded men calling for a Caliphate in the UK contradicts the left wing fantasy that we are all rubbing along happily in a multicultural paradise.

There is also the problem  that if Muslims do openly give vent to their real beliefs within the hearing of non-believers, many British people will not feel like challenging them but will politely walk away. Many cultures in the world, the Afro Caribbean and the Arabic, for instance, are very forthright and direct but the British are not. As usual with these government-inspired schemes the good intentions are there. The execution of this one, if that ever happens, is going to be fascinating, but no one should start holding their breath.

(Image: Dave Collier)

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Jane Kelly
Jane Kelly was a journalist with the Daily Mail for fifteen years. She now writes for the Spectator and the Salisbury Review.

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