Monday, October 09, 2006

Multicultural Britain

Why has the hijab or niqab suddenly become a problem in Britain? Why has the 'multicultural model' suddenly become a problem?
Are ghettos a new thing? Since when do orthodox jews mix with goys? More to the point, maybe, since when do aristocratic toffs or even the middle class mix with the working class? Class used to be the subject of a lot of strife. Has the class divide disappeared? I don't think so. Yet, the class divide is surely more of a social problem than what one chooses to wear or not. If women are forced to wear the hijab or niqab, then that is what we should be addressing, not those who choose to do so.
So, are more and more women choosing to wear hijabs or niqabs? I don't know, because I haven't visited Britain for over two years, and even then, I don't hang out in 'ghettos' because I am white,middle class. If it is the case, then maybe it is political, just as manipulation by xenophobic politicians and terrorist governments is political.
Ghettoisation is negative, in my opinion, but the solution isn't in assimilation, it's in integration. Integration isn't helped by images of neo-colonialist terror in muslim countries.
Most muslims in Europe don't live in religious ghettos, they live in social ghettos. There may be religious communities living apart from others within society even without social and economic issues, as I alluded to with respect to orthodox (or even liberal) jews. Whatever the dress code, be it a niqab or a beard and black hat, it shows a desire to seperate from others.
Furthermore, practising muslims may feel alienated from women and girls in mini skirts. The values of our society should be acceptance of people's choices not just those of one section of society. Some may claim Britain is a 'western' society, and so muslims must fit in and adopt western culture. The fact is, our colonial history has made us a multicultural society.
We can't go back on that legacy, and so we must accept, that muslim culture is part of British and European culture. Muslims didn't invade Europe. They came here because of our colonial history. We can't pretend it never happened and start over. We are still reaping the benefits of colonialism, and so we must accept, that we are not simply a 'western' nation, but a multicultural one.

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