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  • Technorati: graph / links

    What binds Brits together


    by Sid (Faisal) on 15th April, 2009 at 4:34 pm    

    Ed Husain has posed a set of probing questions on what it means to buy into the shared values of British identity.

    The strongest challenge to Britain’s value system since the civil war is in our midst. Yes, the Victorian period posed the odd challenge around social mores, but with empire “over palm and pine”, Britain felt reassured about its sense of self. Since losing its empire, Britain has failed to re-invent itself or to find a new, attractive identity.

    But can a secular, liberal democracy in 2009 sustain values-based challenges from faith communities? Time will tell, but a national conversation is overdue. Without fear of racism or Islamophobia, it is time to ask the difficult questions. Can religiously observant Muslims really integrate into Britain? And should they? How can a nation that has pubs as its shared space, ever truly welcome non-drinkers? How do ordinary Brits really feel about those who prefer orange juice to beer? And how can religious, marital monogamists raise children in a sexually liberal society that values individual choice over collective obligations?

    We need to move beyond simplistic debates about identity and engage with the deeper issues that are at stake. Too often, commentators have suggested that a united society can be built on shared tastes in sport, food, and clothing. This is not enough: such arguments overlook that the 7/7 bombers played cricket, ate fish and chips and dressed in jeans. We need a deeper debate about the core values that can bind us together as a nation.

    There are many other questions that need asking. What are these “shared values” that somehow bind us together as Brits? And how can we, as a nation and as individuals, best begin promoting these values? If, here in Britain, together we can find positive pathways forward, then Europe and others will follow. The best antidote to extremism and terrorism is to foster a shared sense of belonging: together, we can do it.

    Quilliam is also hosting an event on this topic, on their first birthday, St George’s Day, and Shakespeare’s birthday.

    Thursday 23rd April, 2009

    6:00pm, central London venue

    Why does Britain face a difficult challenge around integration today? Is it because, as some claim, we have too many immigrants? Or because of Britain’s liberal sexual mores that seemingly contradict religious teachings? Or is it because our shared national space —pubs — appear inaccessible to some? Or are democracy and the secular state unacceptable to those who want to govern in God’s name? Or do Asian forced and arranged marriages abroad create generational tensions here in Britain? Or even more fundamentally — is it the lack of a shared sense of history, perhaps?

    Are these differences irreconcilable? Ultimately, how do we overcome these and other problems and build a Britain in which future generations will be proud?

    On St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday, to mark our first anniversary Quilliam will be hosting a debate with a unique panel to address these crucial questions and offer a vision of a better Britain.

    Guest speakers:

    How do we build a Britain of shared values?
    Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

    Being British — what it’s not
    Michael Gove MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools & Families

    A sense of Britishness from an eclectic Muslim woman
    Parvin Ali OBE, Britain’s first female Muslim chaplain and founder of FATIMA Network

    British Muslims and participative citizenship: problems and potential solutions
    Dr Tahir Abbas, sociologist, University of Birmingham

    Chair: Ed Husain, author of ‘The Islamist’ and co-founder of Quilliam

    Quilliam directors will also present highlights of our work over the last year.

    Spaces are limited to 300. To confirm a place, please RSVP to lucy.james@quilliamfoundation.org. For security purposes, the venue will be disclosed at a later date upon confirmation.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: British Identity




    44 Comments below   |  

    1. blah — on 15th April, 2009 at 5:14 pm  

      Without fear of anti-semitism, it is time to ask the difficult questions. Can religiously observant Jews really integrate into Britain? And should they? How can a nation that belives in Jesus ever truly welcome those who utterly reject him and considered him a liar (God forbid)? How do ordinary Brits really feel about those who prefer kosher to pork sausages? And how can religious, marital monogamists raise children in a sexually liberal society that values individual choice over collective obligations?

    2. blah — on 15th April, 2009 at 5:17 pm  

      Douglas Murray, adviser to the Quillam Foundation

      “Conditions for Jews in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe—after all—no special dues to Judaism. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. There is not an inch of ground to give on this one. Where a synagogue has become a centre of hate it should be closed and pulled down. If that means that some Jews don’t have a synagogue to go to, then they’ll just have to realise that they aren’t owed one.

    3. Jai — on 15th April, 2009 at 5:41 pm  

      For the love of God, Munir, the people running this website have already repeatedly identified you as “Blah” due to the access they have to the technical systems required.

      And yet you still persist in switching usernames, including one recent instance where you even wrote a fake response to yourself under your “Blah” alias.

      Do you seriously think everyone else here — including the people running PP — is so stupid that they don’t know this ?

      Clearly you do. It speaks volumes about the level of contempt you have for everyone else involved in this website, not to mention the staggering extent to which you underestimate other people’s intelligence.

      So much for your claims yesterday about the various teachings of Islam that Muslims are required to observe. Or do you honestly think that having a beard is more important than observing the Islamic teaching that Muslims should not lie to non-Muslims and, indeed, that they should always conduct themselves with scrupulous integrity and honour in their dealings with other people ?

      It’s very revealing about your priorities, though. You really do have a hell of a lot in common with the ludicrously shallow, superficial notions of religion and spirituality promoted by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Al-Muhajiroun, along with the more extreme Wahhabis/Salafis.

    4. platinum786 — on 15th April, 2009 at 6:20 pm  

      Good point Blah. I mean I know he comes across as sarcastic and an almost “expected response” but to an extent he is right. There are load of things we all do and don’t do which are different. Like men who don’t support a football club, what is it with that? They seem to integrate.

      There is no great barrier between people, it only takes time. It’ll happen slowly. You can help move the process along, for examples you get Halal versions of Nando’s they still sell chicken, but chicken Muslims and Jews will eat too.

    5. blah — on 15th April, 2009 at 6:30 pm  

      platinum786

      “You can help move the process along, for examples you get Halal versions of Nando’s they still sell chicken, but chicken Muslims and Jews will eat too.”

      No though kosher meat is permitted for Muslims to eat Jews arent allowed to eat meat slaughtered by Muslim.

      Though to be fair Maimondes did say that while an open bottle of wine touched by a Christian must be poured away (as Christians are idolaters), but if touched by a Muslim it can be sold or given away, although it may not be drunk by a Jew.

    6. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 6:40 pm  

      Good point, Platimum, Blah .. in Nepal, Singapore etc and I could mention other countries that are not majority Muslim, people do Halal meat and everyone else can just as easily consume. There’s not much chat about it, it’s just the way things are.

      Plus why this obsession with pub culture? I mean, other countries drink and all, but they don’t hold this as the beacon for cohesion? Why don’t we use football as a barometer? Ah.. yes, we need to use something that’s exclusive where one particular ‘other’ can’t join in - and depending on the times and circumstances, this ‘other’ will be Muslim , Jewish, black or whatever.

      And in fact Munir/Blah, in his colourful way, made an interesting point previously, the majority of British Muslims are young and working class - and they are talked about and represented through the lens of mostly not young and middle class, professionally ’successful’ people . Guess it’s OK to a point - but beyond a certain point you’ve got to wonder whether these people can get airtime, column space without saying and going on about the Muslims…

      And unless I am losing my mind, did we have a blog post on this in the morning?

    7. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      Going back to the more important issue, without talking about Muslims which I find boring (excuse the un-PC way this is stated), is that Britain is confident enough, in my mind, not to need post-electic reinvention to assert itself. In fact -it’s precisely the mark of a confident nation not to be assertive or prominent. powerful countries, like powerful people don’t need to make themselves vocal or heard all the time.

    8. dave bones — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:04 pm  

      Integrate with me into squat parties. Last one not on Ketamine lying on the floor is anti-British.

    9. Don — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:05 pm  

      Plus why this obsession with pub culture? I mean, other countries drink and all, but they don’t hold this as the beacon for cohesion? Why don’t we use football as a barometer? Ah.. yes, we need to use something that’s exclusive where one particular ‘other’ can’t join in …

      What obsession? Why football? Exclusive? What on earth are you talking about?

      Ah…yes No, not Ah, yes… I don’t go the pub to avoid ‘others’. I go for a pint and a natter. For a total of about four hours a week. It’s not a beacon of cohesion, it’s a pub.

    10. Sid — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:11 pm  

      I’m indifferent to football. I know, it’s highly homosexual of me. I like to think I’m fairly well integrated though.

    11. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:20 pm  

      “it’s not a beacon of cohesion, it’s a pub’”

      “How can a nation that has pubs as its shared space, ever truly welcome non-drinkers? ”

      Sounds to me like it’s being held as a beacon of something…. and i think there’s an assumption there around integration…

      I could be wrong, but i keep hearing pubs are a national institution…

    12. A Councillor Writes — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

      Sid @ 9 - sorry, but us gayers like football this week (I think), some of us have liked it for a very long time.

    13. Sid — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:29 pm  

      Well there you go Councillor. I on the other hand can only kick like a girl.

    14. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:29 pm  

      Don

      If i am not mistaken, British culture in some quarters especially when linked to Muslims , is associated with the pub… as easily as France is with … I’ll stop the stereotyping here.

      The reason why pubs might be exclusive is because people generally go to get a drink and chat- not just chat. If you don’t drink it’s probably not the most comfortable space.

      Sid, yes, I think it’s great you kick like a girl, join the club. I just took football as an example because it’s probably enjoyed by more people (blokes) than say, rugby, and generally speaking, there seem to be no religious restrictions on playing/watching football. unless a girl maybe..

      I don’t consider myself integrated but I don’t consider this in any way a problem or a challenge.

    15. Don — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:34 pm  

      How can a nation that has pubs as its shared space, ever truly welcome non-drinkers?

      As designated drivers?

    16. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:39 pm  

      ? clearly i don’t get the reference/humour? on above..

    17. A Councillor Writes — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:41 pm  

      I blame Brand Beckham :-)

      I think that pubs are and will continue to evolve over the years. More and more of them, even “estate pubs” offer meals, coffee etc. The days of the hard drinking den for locals only is over. As they evolve, I’m sure that many will become more inclusive spaces, they will have to in order to survive.

      All publicans welcome non-drinkers, have you seen the profits on fountain Coke?

    18. Sid — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:41 pm  

      Many Asians who faced racism first hand in the 70s and 80s do not feel integrated. I know quite a few secular Muslims and Sikhs who go to pubs and play football but bear these feelings of disgruntlement and disaffection. On an individual basis, it’s nothing serious as long as it does not manifest into outright hostility. It’s when entire communities share the same feelings, and multiculturalism has pronounced these feelings, does it becomes endemic and divisive.

    19. Its me — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:42 pm  

      who cares about integration? We should be valuing the diversity among us and appreciating the differences of the people in modern Britain.

      Being British has no definition. Eating my curries, worshipping in my local temple and not drinking in the pub still makes me British.

      If we all learn to understand one another and appreciating our differences we may create a more accepting national consciousness rather than trying to work out how we can promote integration.

      http://www.paki-tin.blogspot.com

    20. Golam Murtaza — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:42 pm  

      I wonder…is it really correct to keep returning to the whole pub thing when talking about Britishness? I understand pubs are closing down all over the place and loads of non-Muslim Brits now prefer to get tanked up at home. Or in a bar. (I’m talking about those self-consciously ‘trendy’, pointlessly loud bars which have little in common with the old-style pub).

    21. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:45 pm  

      Sid
      I live in nepal and don’t feel integrated in Nepal, it’s not a problem as such… it’s accepted that I am different.

    22. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 7:52 pm  

      My white friends so to speak in London are even less integrated than I am .. they’re busy being at war with the system etc.. nobody ever talks to them about the need to show more cohesion, unity and integration.

    23. Its me — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:04 pm  

      white, brown, black, pink, mauve, yellow, green…

      Its all bullsh*t…

      Cohesion is as annoying as ‘integration’.. so many buzzwords to address an issue that has no real right or wrong answer…

      ‘Love is all you need’ lardy lardy

      http://www.paki-tin.blogspot.com

    24. Leon — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:05 pm  

      I know Muslims who come to the pub but drink juice, the pub is a most excellent invention. :D

    25. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:09 pm  

      “I know Muslims who come to the pub but drink juice, the pub is a most excellent invention. :D

      I know Muslims who run pubs but don’t drink …or sorry, that would be Indian restaurants which allegely make more money with the drink license than food.. ‘Indian’ with the caveat British Bangladeshis who tend to be Muslims run most of these restaurants .

    26. justforfun — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:24 pm  

      …..”Since losing its empire, Britain has failed to re-invent itself or to find a new, attractive identity.”

      mmm - Perhaps Britain was the Empire? And now the Empire has gone, Britain will go, and in its place will be its constituent nations - England, Scotland, Wales and NIreland etc.

      Trying to play above Britain’s weight has brought no end of problems. Politians always seem to think they have to solve the world’s problems - and we inflate our own egos by allowing them to waste their time and our money meddling abroad. Perhaps its time to downsize to simple nations and enjoy the beer.

      For my part I don’t feel British - I feel English. My children will have a choice - they can be brownish Scottish or sort of brownish English. They love going to Scotland to see the clan - so who knows my son may yet put on Scottish strip one day. He will of course have to accept the pay cut and limited ambition of only playing for Scotland - but I’ll still be proud of him.

      justforfun

    27. halima — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:35 pm  

      hey justforfun

      interesting .. i couldn’t identify myself with being English, for strange reasons, is there something about an English identity being of blood and the British identity borne of civic bonding and political union? In which case if the british identity is disintegrating, perhaps we all have to pick one of these other identities… seems like you will have an even stronger identity before the English one - that of being a great Dad.

      and neither do i consider integration to be the hallmark of being British. I consider myself completely and unashamedly british - but integration - I have political difficulty with it.

    28. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 15th April, 2009 at 8:56 pm  

      We need to move beyond simplistic debates about identity and engage with the deeper issues that are at stake…

      I think that is the biggest thing holding you together at present. It’s the song that never ends!!
      really! The disguising of issues and constant debate seems to be your identity.
      oh and complaining about what everyone else does has done or might do…

      I know I am American, but when I grow I want to be a British eccentric….. or a pirate (can’t decide - and a good one not a bad one)
      I have been studying you (england mostly) for the last 3 years … through blogs, immigrants, tourists, media and pop culture.
      And what I have learned is instead more about myself and my own country.

      How do you “find” an identity? You just are!
      and unless you are madonna …. there is no need to “reinvent” yourself,
      I especially don’t know how you find a common identity?
      other than maybe you are all alive,and would like to remain that way.
      and who would want everything to always be common?
      Some of the questions that have been asked in that quoted above piece are kind of stupid ….
      Define integrate? If it is supposed to mean you do what everyone else is doing …just because they do it… thats well, just ridiculous. Especially when after that question mostly negative examples about beer and some sexual free for all are used.
      can religious, marital monogamists raise children in a sexually liberal society that values individual choice over collective obligations?
      (not that there is nothing in british culture I find very hard for myself personally as an outsider to always agree with) but that is a pretty self righteous question if it’s being asked strictly from a religious perspective.
      Why is it impossible for people to believe individual choice can be to choose collective obligation, and collective obligation has to include individual choice .. unless you would want a society of mindless, soulless, lifeless drones motioning through a stagnant miserable world - all for the greater good.
      The best antidote to extremism and terrorism is to foster a shared sense of belonging. On that I do agree… why are Europeans so afraid of differences and change? though I do have much hope for the younger generations around the world and the choices THEY will make…..
      really I think life today is pretty great! … but Im not focused on looking for all the wrong and arguing my life away … if I want to build a community I just go outside and start building!

      I wanted to add this link under another post …
      http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/pakistan802/
      I wish someone/anyone would look and watch.
      it is very important!

    29. Arif — on 15th April, 2009 at 9:24 pm  

      What should be done to people who do not feel British, as defined by Ed Husain? What if their Britishness only extends to a recognition that they have a particular passport or live in a particular place ruled by an administration calling itself British?

      For me it is as relevant to my identity as my local authority district. In that sense I agree with Ed, I can support a local sporting team, but I don’t think it means I need to share core values with other supporters of that team, nor that I should assume my values are inconsistent with those who support another team.

      But does Ed also accept that values don’t have much to do with my geographical position or the colour of my passport. For me at least, my core values make me uncomfortable with attempts to define my moral identity on the basis of such amoral criteria.

      Even if I did happen to share Ed’s values, sharing core values does not stop people becoming hostile or going to war. I could interpret clash of civilisationists on either side of the fence sharing certain core values with one another, values that I can’t subscribe to. And they can each interpret me as sharing the core values of their enemies. So I feel it is a dangerous thing is to let people in power treat us differently on the basis of their interpretation of our core values.

      Touchy feely “together, we can do it” rhetoric may be harmless (although some may feel it is uncomfortably unBritish for them to take seriously). Talking about “building a Britain to be proud of”, can be a way of motivating people to do what we should do anyway. But if that’s what makes others feel good, then fine. I’ll express my values very differently, and I suspect one day Ed will see me as the enemy and another day as an ally depending on how he sees it feeding into his own agenda.

      Still, if he wants to start a conversation on these issues, that’s great and hopefully it will move on from the people on the panel to people who, on the surface at least, might seem to have very different values from him.

    30. Roger — on 15th April, 2009 at 10:11 pm  

      A nation has been defined as a group of people united by a common delusion about their ancestry and a common hatred of their neighbours. The delusion about ancestry’s gone, so that leaves us the hatred.

    31. blah — on 15th April, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

      Roger - brilliant

    32. dave bones — on 16th April, 2009 at 9:06 am  

      20. Golam Murtaza

      Bang on. The pub might have used to be some sort of mecca twenty years ago but Thatcher’s Pub co policies totally killed all of that.

      I think there is an integrated Britishness of behaviour which I have seen in Islamic Fundamentalists I have met as much as people who go to the pub all the time. Britain has extremists on coucil estates and in castles. Lots of people believe dodgy things but all are linked by a common humour and British politeness.

      I think these subtle values and communal British traits have been and can be very useful.

    33. platinum786 — on 16th April, 2009 at 10:13 am  

      Roger we can all hate the french, Muslims can hate them for banning headscarfs and non Muslims can hate them for eating garlic and being lazy… or whatever.

      There we go, crisis avoided.

    34. Shafiq — on 16th April, 2009 at 10:40 am  

      Let’s be honest, who gives a damn. We’ve managed to survive one way or another for the past 50 years, we’ll manage for another 50.

      I’d much prefer to have no national identity, than the cringe-worthy patriotism of Americans. There’s one thing that we all do best - complain.

    35. dave bones — on 16th April, 2009 at 11:13 am  

      Totally Shafiq. We should have a communal “Moan about the weather dressed in Union Jack underpants” day. whilst eating our national dish Chicken Tika Masala

    36. platinum786 — on 16th April, 2009 at 3:37 pm  

      I’m not a big chicken Tikka fan, unless it’s on Pizza…

      Can we make the national dish a spciey veggie pizza with chicken tikka on top?

      And yes many a time i have giggled at the irony of ordering a veggie pizza with chicken on it.

    37. Amrit — on 16th April, 2009 at 5:21 pm  

      Jai:

      And yet you still persist in switching usernames, including one recent instance where you even wrote a fake response to yourself under your “Blah” alias

      Are you FOR REAL?! *dies laughing* I am so tempted to use this technique next time I am having an argument with somebody. IN PERSON. Let’s see how dem bitches like THAT. Hearing voices, you say?

      On a serious note though, what does anyone think of Heresy Corner’s near-forensic analysis of EH’s post? It’s thought-provoking and funny, even though the tone rankles (with me, anyway) at times:

      http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2009/04/his-masters-voice.html

    38. Jai — on 16th April, 2009 at 6:21 pm  

      Are you FOR REAL?!

      I’m afraid so, Amrit.

      You should also read what he’s been saying about Sikhs on the “Fatwa to Jihad” thread: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4241#comment-158868

      Check out my post #56 on the same thread too ( http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4241#comment-158854 ), as it includes a couple of previous quotes by him about Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahadur on some other discussions a little while ago. I think you’ll find his remarks “interesting” reading.

    39. Amrit — on 16th April, 2009 at 9:17 pm  

      Jai -

      If by interesting you mean, ‘gives one the urge to help him re-insert his head up his back passage,’ then… well, yes, interesting. Fascinating.

      TCH, I *heart* you.

    40. soru — on 16th April, 2009 at 11:47 pm  

      But does Ed also accept that values don’t have much to do with my geographical position or the colour of my passport

      Identity precedes values: some violations of those values you _forgive_, some you _excuse_, some you _fight_. You have to know who you are before you can know where you stand before you can make that choice.

      Not blood and soil, but heart as well as mind. I think Paul Cornell expressed this as well as anyone:

      http://www.comicsbulletin.com/reviews/images/0806/capbrit22.jpg

    41. Imran Khan — on 17th April, 2009 at 6:23 pm  

      Is this what our £1 Million is being spent on?

      Heck of a way to combat extremism huh?

      Come on we are being told about an event that they won’t tell us its location and we have to apply to attemd and we pay for this jibberish!

      Brilliant move by Blears yet again to spend so much and get so little in return!

    42. Imran Khan — on 17th April, 2009 at 6:25 pm  

      The irony is that Ed hides his name and now taking it a step further is hiding his event!

      Genius! Absolute Genius!

      Confronting Extremism by holding events which are hidden away from the community which you are planning to prevent extremism in ;-)

      Why do they get soooooooooooo much coverage here I wonder.

    43. Posts about cricket as of April 16, 2009 | Cricket Funde — on 18th April, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

      [...] improving. Warwickshire 189 for 3 (54 … it was.” County cricket must never die. What binds Brits together - pickledpolitics.com 04/15/2009 Ed Husain has posed a set of probing questions on what it means to [...]

    44. imran khan — on 19th April, 2009 at 8:39 am  

      Sid - If you attend can you ask “Edward Hussein” and Majid why they made such an issue of wanting to debate with Geert Wilders apparently to stand up for their faith and yet with so much modern technology they have failed to do so.

      Now Wilders has announced plans for a second film about Islam and the impact of Muslims on Europe which he sees as all bad and he has given many interviews to the press worldwide.

      Its amazing that your boys Ed and Maj haven’t been able to stil debate with him.

      Why is that or do they just do things for press effect to justify having tax payers money?

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