Britain 2011/2024: What will follow the imminent death of British and European multiculturalism?

Posted: 11 March, 2024 | Category: Current News Category: Features & Analysis Category: Uncategorized

The British Government is about to re-define what it means to be an extremist. TREVOR GRUNDY  recalls that thirteen years ago, Angela Merkel and  David Cameron made it  clear that multi-culturalism  in Germany and Britain is dead – Gone with the Wind. So,  a decade plus later up-pops one of  Rupert Murdoch’s favourite politicians, Michael Gove, who is about to give us his interpretation of what happens when we ignore people he brands as extremists. Now is  a good time to think carefully about what our- born again increasingly populist leaders from all parties are up to. It’s time to take a long hard look at the cartoon above and ask – What  next?  Who next?

 

 

THE STRANGE DEATH OF MULTICULTURALISM by Trevor Grundy Cold Type Magazine  written in August 2011.

 

Islamophobia has become a socially acceptable form of bigotry in some circles in Britain. It is my profession – the media – that is driving much of this anti-Muslim sentiment. It’s the media that churns out Islamophobic headlines, editorials, columns, imagery. You can say things about Muslims in the British press that you could never say about any other members of a minority.” – Mehdi Hasan, senior editor (politics) of the “New Statesman” in a speech delivered to an audience of an estimated 500 people at the Muslim Leadership annual dinner in London on 18 March, 2011.

 

 

THE DEBATE about the apparent collapse of multiculturalism in western Europe, including the United Kingdom, moved into top gear last October when the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the youth wing of her Christian Democrat Union that this concept had ”utterly failed.”

In a landmark speech, Mrs Merkel broke one of Germany’s last taboos, and courted anti-immigration support, by saying that those people from a different background had failed to live happily alongside native Germans.

There are seven million foreign residents living in that country and some 4.3 million are Muslims. Over 3,000 mosques are dotted across that land.

In tub-thumping mood, she told a captivated audience of young men and women that the so-called “multikulti “ concept in her country had failed.

“This approach has failed, utterly,” she declared days after a poll showed that a third of all Germans viewed most immigrants as little more than scroungers and welfare cheats.

Mama Merkel – Here we go again

Dressed to thrill  but how did this go down with no longer wanted Turkish guest-workers in Germany?

 

They included Turks, who had helped Germans achieve what’s called an “economic miracle” following Hitler’s defeat and the destruction of the Third Reich after May 1945.

Then, turning her attention to the largely unspoken fear that the national character (German-ness) was being lost amidst the further construction of mosques, the appearance or more and more headscarves in classrooms and Turkish ghettoes springing up in Berlin and other parts of the country, she added – “We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here.”

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the hidden message was discernible –    

Immigrants are our misfortune.

Chancellor Merkel’s speech came not long after a Bundesbank board member, Thilo Sarrazin, moved a white pawn onto a once brightly coloured multi-kulti chess board  placed there by a book published last year called “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Engl: Germany abolishes/does away with itself).

In it he said that four million Muslims in Germany were “dumbing down” society and that the national Christian identity of Germans was in danger of being lost.

The book was popular, one of the most successful by a German author in a decade.

His views were known to fellow academics. But what he wrote would once have been anathema to the liberal democrats who paraded after the Second World War as the champions of democracy and who showed the world the smiling, open, transparent and above all multicultural face of West Germany after the fall of the wall in 1989.

In 2009 in “Lettre International” a German quarterly magazine, Sarazzin described Arab and Turkish immigrants as men and women unwilling to integrate fully into German society.  He said –

“Integration requires effort from those who are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone who is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arabic population of Berlin.”

Regarding Islam he wrote:

“No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. No group emphasises their differences so strongly in public, especially through women’s clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid.”

An opinion poll showed that one fifth of all Germans agreed with him.

The poll came at a time when anti-Christian violence was sweeping parts of the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. Tragically, some of that violence was caused by anti-Islamist/Muslim events that took place in Europe and America. The burning of the Koran and publication of idiotic cartoons mocking Islam in Denmark but two examples.

The soaking of the Holy Koran with petrol and setting it alight caused violent reaction in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Then that reaction appeared in Britain to vindicate the belief held in  ultra –nationalist circles that Muslims are a violent lot, always on the rampage, always attacking Christians.

Less than six months after the German chancellor’s speech, the Vatican’s observer to the United Nations warned that anti-Christian violence would worsen worldwide if such events continue.

“We are living at a particularly complicated moment for the defence of Christian human rights, especially in certain countries of Asia and Africa,” Archbishop Sivano Tomasi was quoted as saying in the Roman Catholic weekly magazine “The Tablet” (19 March 2011).

”Discrimination against Christians isn’t just restricted to a lack of respect for their religious faith – it’s also leading to murder and violence and this is now growing.”

The Vatican representative was speaking after the 02 March killing by gunman of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic minister in Pakistan’s federal government, whose funeral in Islamabad’s Our Lady of Fatima Church was accompanied by angry Christian protests.

“We need to analyse this phenomenon, which is already far too widespread, case by case,” Archbishop Tomasi said in an interview with Vatican Radio.

“There is a common denominator which links these acts to violence against Christians- they’re seen as easy targets and objects because they don’t seek violence or take reprisals.”

Muslims in Britain and Germany believe the same might be said about them.

 

 

UNTIL MERKEL’S  speech, Germans of political note kept well away from controversy that could be construed as right wing, even neo-Nazi.

Since 1945, politicians of all shades of opinion have spoken in broad positive terms about multiculturalism.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Turkish guest-workers say farewell to Deutschland. Job done. Best of luck. No longer needed

 

So something both important and alarming (critics of Germany’s immigration policy would ad the word courageous) was beating close to the heart of German- ness and the country’s political system and it comes at a time when imported ‘cheap labour’ is seen as a threat to the European working classes who are facing tough times because of economic collapse caused by mounting inflation, bank failures, cynicism about political leaders around the world and growing concern about globalization which has underscored, if needs be once again, the incredible differences in living standards between not only  haves and  have nots   but the mighty difference between our new economic masters prompting the brain-battering phrase –the haves and the have yachts.

In Germany, significant post-war immigration began in the 1960s when Turks and others arrived to fill the labour vacuum left by the dead of the Second World War.

Mrs Merkel recalled that in the 1960s, foreign workers (guestarbeiten)  were needed. Chillingly, she said: “We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone.’ But this isn’t reality.”

Her speech triggered a sharp response from various Jewish leaders, Stephen Kramer of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, one of them.

He said the debate was making foreigners (and minorities including German Jews) “uneasy and scared.”

 

DAVID CAMERON is Britain’s 21st Old Etonian prime minister, a multi-millionaire and, by marriage, connected to the English aristocracy. Eighteen members of the British cabinet are multi-millionaires. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to grasp where his, and their, interests lie. But the response to Angela Merkel’s speech took many by surprise. He made it at a security conference in Munich on 10 February this year.

Against a backdrop of draconian cuts to the public sector and massive pre-2007 rewards to the bankers, the British prime minister rose and condemned state multiculturalism.  He echoed the words of Mrs Merkel  and suggested, like some 19thcentury banner waving Christian reformer that multiculturalism should be replaced with something more much more vibrant and British. “Frankly,” he told delegates, “we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism.”

This signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism and his speech in southern Germany angered several leading Muslim groups in Britain while others queried its timing – the day that an extremist nationalist group called the English Defence League organised a march protesting against Muslims in the town of Luton (29 miles/46 kms north of London) where in 2009 a small group of Muslims had denounced British soldiers in Iraq as “murderers” and “baby killers.”

The small “Islamic” demonstration produced angry headlines and widespread condemnation nut most Muslims in Lutondenounced the placard wavers. “These people do not represent the Muslim community” one of them told a reporter from the conservative newspaper “Daily Telegraph.”

But despite the fact that the vast majority of Muslims in the UK –around two million men, women and children – David Cameron said in his speech that  henceforth there would be stronger scrutiny of certain Muslim groups which receive public funds to fight extremism but which did little to earn their keep.

On the Muslim groups that speak for their community, he remarked-”Let’s properly judge these organizations. Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people in other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law?? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?”

The speech – it stopped short of underlying Britain’s Christian heritage – raised eyebrows among the Muslim community and temperatures among socialists and liberals in the British media.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary general, Faisal Hanjra, described the prime minister’s speech as disappointing saying – ”Again, it just sees the Muslim community is very much in the spotlight, being treated as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.” He added- ”We need to be clear, Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.”

Increasingly, those who curry favour with the English establishment – they include prominent politicians, journalists and even well known Christian church leaders – insist that they are.

 

 

ONE OF BRITAIN’S best known Muslims is Baroness  Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, a minister without portfolio in Britain’s coalition government.

Baroness Warsi- She spoke about the danger of branding Muslims as moderates or extremists

 

When I was invited to attend the annual Muslim leadership dinner at a leading London hotel on the evening of 18 March (2011)  I was handed a copy of a magazine called ‘Emel’, the leading Muslim lifestyle magazine in the UK which contained a long article about the woman who the “Daily Telegraph” calls the 23rd most influential right – winger in Britain.

In it she said that in Britain things can be said about Muslims that could never be said about any other minority group. She listed recent newspaper headlines and they included such uncouth gems as “Muslim students back killing in the name of Islam” – “Muslim plot to kill the Pope” and “ Muslims force Britons to eat Halal meat.”

She drew attention to the danger of categorizing Muslims as either moderate or extreme.

“If you are saying that the only Muslim who is acceptable is the one who we can define as moderate, then what you are saying is that to be a Muslim is toxic per se and only the detoxified moderate as acceptable.” She went on:  “You cannot say someone is an extremist Muslim. He’s just an extremist.”

She said that attacks on Muslims and Islam are now part of polite conversation at dinner parties organized and attended by members of the English middle class establishment.

She said that in Leicester, the English Midlands city which is now running to seed and which is lived in, mostly, by first, second and third generation Muslims.

Mehdi Hasan, one of Britain’s best known journalists who is the political editor of the leftwards leaning “ New Statesman” addressed the audience of over 500 people.

He said that Islamophobia has become a “socially acceptable form of bigotry” in some circles.

“It is my profession – the media – that is driving much of this anti-Muslim sentiment. It’s the media that churns out Islamophobia headlines, editorials, columns, imagery. You can say things about Muslims in the British press that you could never say about any other members of a minority.”

As he spoke, I wondered if he had been  thinking about what one of Britain’s best known and richest novelists, Martin Amis (son of Kingsley Amis the author of “Lucky Jim”) told the journalist Ginny Dougary when she interviewed him in 2006, when he was still boiling with anger about 9/11. He said:

Left-wing (originally) Martin with right-wing dad Kingsley Amis

“There is a definite urge – don’t you have it? to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order’ . . . What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation farther down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they from the Middle East or from Pakistan. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.”

Change the word Muslim to Jew, replace Pakistan with Israel and see what you get.

Hasan told one of the thousand of so “jokes” involving Muslims that are swirling around.

A man saved a small boy from being attacked by a mad dog in a London park.

A photographer from one of the scare-mongering English tabloids saw this heroic act, and took pictures. He told a local hero in the making that he’d soon be famous and much loved.  The following day, he said, headlines would read – “Brave British hero saves innocent child from mad dog.”

Mr Hero explained that he wasn’t British.

Okay, said the photographer. The headline would instead read- “Brave Londoner saves innocent child from mad dog.”

“I’m not from London either,” the man explained, “I’ve just arrived I this country and I’m a student from Pakistan.”

The following day the “Daily Express” headline yelled out: “Islamic fundamentalist asylum seeker kills innocent British dog.”

Applause was loud but underneath the smiles I sensed growing anger.

Freud told us that we usually joke about things that frighten us the most.

Muslims in Britain are the new Jews, the new “silly” Poles, “half insane” Irish, “ cunning/crafty” Slovaks, “mumbling and fumbling” “Red” Indians, and “ dumbo/ mumbo/jumbo hands out all begging “Africans.”

How does an Islamist mother teach her child to put on his underpants correctly?

She tells him the fuse goes at the front.

A cartoon shows two Muslim women in recently bought traditional dress in a London street.

Does my bomb look too  big in this?” one asks the other.

There are thousands of them.

Call up Google and type in “Anti-Muslim jokes in Britain.”

Then do it again. Call up Google and type in “Anti-Jewish jokes in Nazi Germany.”

 

IN DECEMBER last year (2010)  I had a long interview in London with Terry Sanderson, President of the UK’s National Secular Society about Britain and its Muslim community.

He told me that accommodating Islam’s special demands will be one of the greatest government challenges of the 21stcentury. He warned that if the British continue burying their head in the sand abut a need for accommodation and continue pretending that Islamist fundamentalists are not running some faith schools where children are taught to hate Christians, Jews, then there could soon be two societies and two cultures in Britain.

He spoke with controlled passion about this need the constructive debate about the urgent need to have an accommodation with the religious and cultural needs of Muslims living in Europe, the USA and other parts of the world.

“What’s happening now is that there is a strong mood within the Muslim community not to be part of the whole but to be separate. It is as though they want to create Pakistan in Britain and keep it separate and I think that once you do that, multiculturalism falls apart because you don’t have a multicultural society, you have cultures living on the same island but completely separated.”

Sanderson was speaking in December last year, a month  after the publication in France of a government-backed report into the impact Muslim students and their parents remaking on the state school system.

And the need to study the problem and come up with some answers after national debate.

The High Council for Integration in Paris reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, who demand Halal meals and reject French culture and its values. The French report said: “It is becoming difficult for teachers to resist religious pressure. We should now reaffirm secularism and train teachers how to deal with specific problems linked to the respect of this principle.”

Sanderson is one of the few top British intellectuals calling for an independent investigation into how religion is taught in state schools. “If you look at some of these faith schools you will see that some really suspect people have got their hands on them,” he told me.

I stopped the interview and asked if he really wanted to be quoted saying that some Muslims appear to want to establish Pakistan in Britain.

“Isn’t that just what the neo-Nazis want us to believe?”

He said yes it was but it was it was the truth.

Two days later I saw that my piece written for Ecumenical News International (ENInews) which is part of the World Council of Churches in Geneva had been picked up by the English Defence League and published on their website.

 

Men of good faith – the Holy Koran refers to Christians and Jews as People of the Book.

 

AS I WRITE in April, I read in “The Times” that it’s the 30thanniversary of the Brixton Race Riots in London. New immigrants in 1980 felt they were being harassed by white policemen and picked on by society as a whole.

In the same paper on 4 April I read about violent deaths in Afghanistan started by a Koran-burning incident  in America. Twelve people have been killed at the time of writing. It’s not over yet so watch this space.

President Karzai  called on the US Congress to join President Obama in condemning the burning in Kandahar which followed the mock “trial” in the Florida Church of a man called Terry Jones, a fundamentalist Christian pastor and hero of the English Defence League  (EDL) which has taken over prime spot in the UK as the country’s most fervently nationalist organization following the demise of the British National Party after its leader Nick Griffin made such a fool of himself in a televising programme aired in October 2009called Question Time, hosted by David Dimbleby.

A crowd of several hundred protestors marched on a UN- compound in Kandahar two days after seven foreign  UN workers and five Afghan protestors were killed in similar demonstrations in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif,

Mr Jones has refused to apologise for what Mr Obama called “an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry.”

Could an incident like that spread if someone burnt a Koran beat up or killed a “militant” Muslim in Britain or Germany? Only a fool would say no.

On 11 April, the “Daily Mail” newspaper reported that a senior member of the British National Party, 42- year old Sion Owens, had been arrested for  burning a copy of the Koran in his garage.

Police fear that this former key supporter of Nick Griffin (who likes to pose as white Britons’ champion against fundamentalist Islamists) will become a sort of right-wing martyr and that other far-right nationalists will attempt to emulate his actions which prompted  Saqed Mueen of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute to comment that this was proof enough of what he called “the globalization of outrageous stunts.”

Also on 11 April,  France passed a new law banning the wearing of any form of clothing concealing one’s face in public. Several people including two heavily veiled women were arrested.

“Women in France have the right to freedom of religion and expression. They must also be free to protest when this right is violated,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty.

“This law puts France to shame – a country that prides itself on the human rights it claims to promote and protect, freedom of expression included,” says the internationally respected human rights organisation.

“The law preventing women in France from expressing their values, beliefs and identity should be scrapped,” Amnesty’s Dalhuisen declared.

Perhaps, unwittingly, highly educated and economically privileged men and women – including Merkel in Germany and Cameron in England – are delivering a disturbing message to Muslims in the European Union (EU) that they were useful and wanted but now useless and unwanted –their religious beliefs and practices disturbing to Christians in secular Europe.

The future of Britain ‘s still quiet but increasingly disturbed Muslim community is one that should be studied  by responsible politicians, academics, historians, journalists, teachers and social workers.

Yet quiet debate on the subject of the future of the Muslim community in Britain and elsewhere will be hard to achieve. The most calm and tolerant men and women go berserk, like Vikings with unsheathed swords, when the subject comes up.

Messages about race and religion delivered by politicians on international platforms can be all to easily mis-represented and twisted to gloss the fouler thoughts of people with very different agendas.

 

TERRY SANDERSON’S call for an independent inquiry into how Britain can best accommodate Muslim aspirations in the 21stcentury cannot be answered too soon by a weak and confused coalition government led by multi-millionaires and public schoolboys.

The alternative to investigation and public debate could prove to be what a South African prime minister said in another age would turn out to be “too ghastly to contemplate.”

 

 

Trevor Grundy worked as a journalist in central, eastern and southern Africa from 1966-1996. He is a life member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and  member of the Commonwealth  Journalists Association (CJA).