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Multiculturalism or Assimilation?  Time to take on the march of militancy

As the battle to control Britian’s illegal migration steals the headlines, Sheila Lawlor, Politeia’s Research Director, warns that the continued failure to assimilate existing ethnic and religious minorities presents an even greater problem.

This week’s focus on the Rwanda Bill debate stole the limelight from another front in the battle this country faces to uphold the law, when it comes to the assimilation of religious and ethnic minorities. In the High Court, a Muslim pupil took a case against a school for stopping Muslim ritual prayer sessions in the playground, while from Greater Manchester came the historic evidence of some authorities of turning a blind eye to the criminal action of Asian men.

The school against which the action has been taken was rated ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. It considers its ban proportionate and fair:  it has had bomb threats, intimidation (within the group of Muslim children) and a ‘culture shift’ towards segregation between religious groups. The school is dedicated, if anything, to multiculturalism. Its head, Katharine Birbalsingh, believes it wrong to ‘separate children according to race or religion.’ The school is proud of its ‘family lunches’, where to encourage a friendly atmosphere where no one feels left out because of the dietary requirements of their faith, the food for everyone is vegetarian. Pupils and their families are asked to sign up to its rules and aims, and they have a wide range of choice of alternative schools — around 31 secondary schools in their borough, where two thirds of the population. 64 per cent come from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

The disturbing news from Greater Manchester came in the form of the independent review commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner into the sexual crimes by Asian men in Rochdale from 2003 to 2012 against young white girls, some in care, some missing from home. The review concluded that the abuse was not properly investigated. The victims were ignored, even when a clear pattern of information of crimes had emerged, ranging from sexual crimes to drug abuse. One police officer noted of one (2007) investigation that the police encountered ‘difficulties … in attempting to investigate these matters and felt that Asian males were untouchable, despite the main two being in custody.’

Britain is not alone amongst Europe’s democratic liberal powers in the failure of its policies for assimilation. French schools have their problems: the murder of a teacher in northern France last month by a young radicalised Islamist; the horrific beheading in 2020 of a teacher in Paris by a young radicalised Islamist after social media reports that the teacher showed his class (as part of an ethics lesson on free speech laws) cartoons from the Charlie Hebdo magazine of the Prophet Mohammed. Six young Muslims are now on trial for their involvement in the murder. Less serious, but also disturbing, were the accusations by pupils against a teacher of Islamophobia, after an art lesson featured a nude painting of Diana and Actaeon. The incident brought a visit to the school by the then education minister (now Prime Minister), Gabriel Attal, who promised a firm response from officials, and emphasized the importance of respecting ‘authority’ and French secular values. ‘In French schools, we don’t turn away from looking at a painting. We don’t plug our ears during music class. We don’t wear religious garb…. We neither contest the authority of a teacher, nor the authority of our values’, he declared.

But Britain’s officialdom fails to respect its past, its traditions and even its laws, unable to understand the country whose destiny it seeks to determine. Instead, it is battling for multiculturalism, seeking to impose the contemporary values of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on every institution in the land, with cadres of officials finding new ways to infiltrate each nook and cranny of life.  No longer is it considered that Britain’s traditions, its laws and the culture that bind people together matter. Transmitted and developed over generations, until recently they have been as precious to newcomers as to those whose families have been in Britain for centuries.

France has begun to confront the problems of mass immigration and the aggressive militancy of some among its ethnic minorities.  It may be helped by the dominance of its 18th century revolutionary aims, which have continued to be to the fore – liberty, equality and fraternity. But here, officially a Christian country where even school assemblies are supposed for the most part to include an act of Christian worship, the great and the good have turned their back on a long and old civilisation. The rules to protect freedom are flouted, the schools that transmit culture and learning (provided at taxpayers’ expense) are taken to court, the historic perception is that crimes committed by Asian men against young white girls can go unchecked, because the accused are ‘untouchable’. If that isn’t an indictment of multiculturalism, then what is?

Dr Sheila Lawlor

Dr Sheila Lawlor is Politeia’s Founder and Director of Research. Her background is as an academic historian of 20th century British political history, having started her working life as research fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and Churchill College, Cambridge. Her academic publications include Churchill and the Politics of War 1940-41 and for Politeia she has written on social, economic and constitutional policy.

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