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  • British Muslims most ‘deprived’ minority

    by Sunny
    15th May, 2006 at 2:45 pm    

    Muslims are more likely than other religious minorities to be unemployed and live in poor housing in the most deprived parts of England, research has found. Half of Muslims aged over 25 are not in the formal labour market, according to the Government-backed study.

    The academics said Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities appeared likely to remain concentrated in the same areas. “There are trends that seem likely to keep ethno-religious communities geographically concentrated,” the study said.

    The “dispersal” of these groups is likely to be limited by the desire of families to stay close together, the research said. And many Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus are likely to want to stay close to their places of worship.

    This on the Guardian website today. A few points to be made. Firstly, this issue of deprivation, unemployment and low educational achievement is one that I believe ‘community leaders’ should be tackling instead of spending all their energies on what is going on in Pakistan, Palestine and other countries.

    Secondly, the study (can anyone find it?) does not seem to differentiate between Muslims living in different parts of the country. This is crucial because most Sikhs and Hindus live in London or other relatively prosperous parts of Britain, whereas Muslims have ended up in areas that have grown poorer as the manufacturing base is eroded. So rather than being a story about discrimination this is likely to be more about patterns of migration. Pakistanis in London are relatively much better off than their bretheren up north or even Bangladeshis in east London.

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    1. Jigar » ODPM: Evidence Base on Faith Communities

      [...] I found this via an entry on deprived minorities at Pickled Politics, and it looks to be an interesting read. I shall endeavour to comment on it once I find the time to read the whole document, probably after my summer exams. [...]

    1. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 2:59 pm  

      It’s not so much a ‘Muslim’ thing as an ethnic thing - Indian Muslims, and Muslims from other backgrounds tend to do well. But the 50% unemployment rate is shocking.

      Some factors that may be useful to qualify the ‘Muslim’ versus ‘Pakistani/Bangladeshi’ marker.

      *Religiosity may be a factor in as much as spending after school hours in the madrassa instead of doing school homework may affect educational results and therefore employment prospects.

      *Why do Indian Muslims purportedly do better than Pakistani/Bangladeshis?

      *Regional differences - what are the unemployment rates for white people in the depressed northern mill towns for example?


      That this is labelled as a ‘Muslim’ problem may obscure as much as it illuminates underlying causes.

      But in as much as the background of the groups of people who are suffering these disadvantages are Muslim, it is a disgrace that the MCB and others are not making this a priority of their existence rather than why they should boycott Holocaust Memorial Day and other peripheral issues.

      Also there are groups of people with agendas who will use these stats to push their agendas - racism, Islamophobia, rather than look honestly at some of the underlying reasons. (Not that those are contributory factors but they cannot be used as excuses any more)

    2. Sunny — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

      It is not 50% unemployment, but rather being in the informal labour market. Which means they’re working but possibly as sole traders, or in very small businesses that are not declared or doing other stuff that does not make them part of the formal labour market.

    3. Rohin — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

      I want to know the origins of this 50% figure. Seems bizarre. And as someone who uses stats a lot, I know how things can be bent. I want to see the raw data.

    4. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:10 pm  

      Either way the figure is alarming. If they are operating small business and small traders they won’t be unemployed, they will at least be on the tax paying agenda and won’t be counted as unemployed. However you cut it that figure is startling and is a wake up call.

    5. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:12 pm  

      Yes - caution is the watchword. Sunny can’t you get access to the report with your contacts? 50% is astonishing however you cut it and it would be prudent to get a breakdown of how that figure is reached.

    6. gaz — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

      In addition to the north south divide I think that part of the reason why the figure is high is due to how few muslim women enter the job market. Would be interesting to see the breakdown between male and female job market participation.

    7. Nyrone — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

      Sunny, there has been a re-curring theme with your insistence that community leaders take responsibility for issues relating to young British Asians such as deprivation, unemployment and low educational achievement.

      What do you think they should do, exactly?
      I’m curious, because I’m sceptical about their abilities to do anything productive in most circumstances.

    8. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:39 pm  


      The great weakness of community leader organisations (of all groups/religions) is that structurally and organisationally they only have one mode: opposition and lobbying on the broadest issues of identity politics. They will always be looking to influence policy, criticise, play identity politics, be defensive. What they are not geared up to do is step back and work at grassroots level for the betterment of the people they try to represent - no headlines, no funding, no chance to appear on TV and play the hero imagining you are engaged in an epic struggle for your religion, no photo opportunities, no ego boost. Always easier to blame others, and do so loudly, than to address things internally. Lets say part of the reason for this is because women dont participate in the job market or chain migration is holding back youngsters from a community? Do you think the conservative identity politicians are going to talk honestly about these things? No chance.

    9. Don — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:42 pm  

      I think this may be the document in question;

    10. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

      Nice one Don, just taking a look at it now.

    11. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:45 pm  

      Looks like a must read document for Asians here at PP. I’m going to digest it properly and comment later - some very interesting stats in there too. Over 100 pages long.

    12. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

      Damn - I’m being serious - the level of detail in the report is brilliant. This is essential stuff for all Asians on PP.

    13. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

      Sid, Raz, Rohin, Sonia, Sunny, Jai, Rakhee, and all other Asian readers - take a look at this report - it is vital that you read it. The detail and understanding and breakdown is incredible and we could all learn a lot and discuss it here.

    14. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:06 pm  

      “So rather than being a story about discrimination this is likely to be more about patterns of migration.”

      Economic or people?

    15. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

      Reading through the summary, good to see that the differences within various groups is coming to light at a Government policy level…

    16. Unity — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

      “Looks like a must read document for Asians here at PP”

      Jay: With respect, this should be a must read for everyone - there is a long-established connection between poverty and social/economic deprivation and support for extremist politics across all communities, hence the recent rise in support for the BNP amongst the white underclass in Britain.

      To use a very left-wing reference point, the anarchist political philosopher Mikhail Bakunin predicted - very successfully - that Communist revolutions would not occur in industrialised/capitalist societies, as Marx predict, but in countries where there was/is primarily a peasant/agrarian economy and therefore a much deeper degree of severe and intractable poverty. Unfortunately Bakunin rarely gets credit for his prediction as its usually misattributed to Trotsky - but then that’s the hard-left for you.

      One aspect of all this that I would be interested is hearing views onr is the extent to which certain aspects of the cultural background of different communities may play a part in this issue. What I’m thinking of here is somewhat more granular that simply Sikh/Hindu/Muslim or Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani.

      It is a fact, I think, that some migrant communities do better economically than other - in general terms - and are also more successful in a shorter space of time. This is not something specific to communities originating on the subcontinent, one can see much the same kind of patterns over time in relation to the Jewish, African/Caribbean communities and even some of the newest migrants - it’s particularly noticeable locally that we’re starting to see an increasing number of Turkish/Kurdish owned businesses appearing on local high streets despite only really having had such a community for a matter of four or five years.

      The question, as ever, is one of why one community manages to forge ahead and become economically successful and not another - what are the actual differences that account for this?

      One, admittedly simplistic observation, locally seems to be that migrant communities from what are traditionally trading/mercantile cultures seem to get ahead more quickly than communities whose background is largely agrarian or, as in the case of the African/Caribbean community, where trade was dominated almost completely by external colonial interests. There is likely to be more to this than simply culture - things like access to informal banking/financial networks which are present in some communities but not others, will certainly be a factor, but as a general observation it seems that its the entrepreneurial communities that do well while those relying conventional employment are the one’s that find life more difficult.

      Any views on this?

    17. Geezer — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

      The report mentions that the unemployment rate for Muslims 25+ is under 14% with 6% for Sikhs 5% for Hindus and 4% for the rest of the nation [figure 1.4]. So where does the 50% figure come from?

    18. StrangelyPsychedelique — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

      The Sunday TImes had a feature on British Muslims a couple of weeks ago:,,2099-2155558_1,00.html

      They had a whole heap O statistics in it.

    19. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

      Unity anyone can read it but to be honest, your average non Asian who isnt interested in this kind of thing is not going to be very interested in a 100 page report on the details of Asian economics and demography in the UK.

      But for desis it presents a detailed and fascinating breakdown of our various communities to such a degree that even if you are not interested in the economics or politics side of it, you will find something of interest in the level of detail and understanding of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities - just the minutiae and details they bring to light is fascinating in and of itself.

    20. Geezer — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

      I think I may have found the 50%, it relates to economic activity, meaning participation in the active work force. The national average activity rate is 67% and 70% for Sikhs 71% for Hindus. The Muslim rate is 50% which is largely due to the low female participation rate among Muslims in the formal economy[see page 18 and figure 1.6]

    21. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

      Cheers for that Geezer.

    22. Geezer — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

      No worries Singh! The report is a good read I’m on Communities in areas of multiple deprivation.

    23. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

      It is a good read! I’m at Faith communities and planning…

    24. Geezer — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

      I’m on that now.

    25. Ravi Naik — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

      “The question, as ever, is one of why one community manages to forge ahead and become economically successful and not another - what are the actual differences that account for this?”

      It’s the degree of integration and value given towards education. The more insular communities will have more difficult to find jobs, either because their (faith-based) education is not enough, or is not a priority.

      In France, as in the UK, the usual suspects are the same: muslim communities.

    26. funkg — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:20 pm  

      i think we are all forgetting,
      although perhaps the majority of Muslims in the UK are of south east asian extraction (bangladeshi/pakistan/india) what about muslims from africa, europe, carribean etc? being Muslim is not exclusive to any one ethnicity, has anyone done a study on white UK muslim reverts/converts.

    27. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

      funkg; good point. Something I was interested to see is that 6% of Muslims in the UK are mixed race! That’s roughly 75,000 people. Ask the average person what a Muslim looks like and I reckon you’ll get a fairly stereotypical/prejudiced characterisation.

    28. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:22 pm  


      All that is mentioned in the report.

    29. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:24 pm  

      I mean they mention the ethnic diversity amongst Muslims and factor it into their report.

    30. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:29 pm  

      @Geezer, what did you think of this paragraph:

      “Most importantly, planning authorities should monitor the ethnicity and religious
      identity of planning applicants as a matter of priority, to establish whether ethnic
      and religious minority groups are being unwittingly discriminated against by
      development control and other planning procedures.”

      Thought it made sense myself but can see how the right could have a field day with it (especially the BNP types)…

    31. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

      well say for example in london - if you look at the deprivation statistics - they do tally with areas where you have BME groups. However, - you also usually have white working class groups that make up the deprived community. that’s no surprise, anyone in the regeneration industry knows that.

      the vicious cycle of living in deprived areas on council estates, unemployment, not being able to ‘get out’ or help themselves etc. social exclusion etc. and the resultant apathy is definitely one of the major problems facing anyone working in regeneration /renewal
      across britain. sure its a problem - but just as much for non-BME groups.

      ill look closely at the odpm website when im next on it to see if i can find this particular report. i admit im skeptical about the stats. seems possible someone’s done some aggregating up from small area stats - i mean there are definitely pockets of areas with v. high unemployment..but..

    32. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:34 pm  

      ah just scrolled up! thanks don :-)

    33. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:36 pm  

      geezer - you’re probably right.

      Jay Singh - if you want to read reports like that, sounds like you should be working in regen! :-)

    34. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

      Jay singh’s got a good point up there in his response to nyrone. if community leaders were more encouraging about getting the kids in their ‘communities’ into university say, or training opportunities ( as opposed to just going and working in their uncle’s restaurant..)

      perhaps that’s why they’re all down as unemployed..?!

    35. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:42 pm  

      There are probably more muslim refugees not permitted to work in the formal economy than with other minorities which would skew the numbers.

    36. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:52 pm  

      Sonia, some good points: “sure its a problem - but just as much for non-BME groups.”

      Agreed, but I do wonder if the reasons are a mixture of “race” and class. Reading that document (especially the part about faith and planning) gives the impression that sometimes locals use planning to keep things in the manner of their choosing which results in excluding/isolating BME communities from the wider community. Of course not all can be racism but can’t help but feel that it plays it’s part sometimes…

      And yeah, very interesting document, but then being a bit of a geek I can’t help finding this stuff interesting!

    37. reformist muslim — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:54 pm  

      Will definitely read the report Jay - looking forward to your analysis of it as well.

      Just a quick response to Ravi - you may be right about France, but that doesn’t establish a link between Islam and lack of integration. Muslims in America are statistically one of the richer segments of society. This includes both Middle Eastern Muslims and Subcontinental Muslims which are the types you find in the UK and France.

    38. leon — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:56 pm  

      @ Roger, interesting. Any idea of the breakdown of refugees and where they’ve come from?

    39. Bikhair — on 15th May, 2006 at 5:59 pm  


      I dont get how you can allow people into the country and not allow them to work. In America we want people on the payroll as soon as possible so they can start paying taxes. So long as you have atleast filed for a green card you are sent a to get a work permit months before you are given an interview for your change of immigration status.

      Its a little emasculating when you have people for years and years not being allowed to work.

    40. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:13 pm  

      Take a look at pp 34-35 on the report. It is male muslims’ ecomomic inactivity [whatever that is] that reaches 50%. Male muslim unemployment rates are a lot lower.

    41. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:14 pm  

      bikhair dear - take a good hard look at your country. you seem to have very little understanding of the situation re: green cards.

      then contrast this situation. if you are an international student in the US, and you have a spouse, they are allowed in the country with you and NOT ALLOWED TO WORK. they’re only allowed to study part-time.

      If you are an international student in the UK - and you have a spouse - they’re allowed to work.

    42. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:18 pm  

      don’t take it personally Bikhair - most citizens of a country have very little idea of what its like for a foreigner in the same country - and why should they indeed- since they don’t have to go through the same bureaucratic procedures.

      anyhow - the green card is linked to permanent residency. you can’t get it unless a) you’ve won it in the DV lottery or some such thing b) you’ve already been working for x amount of years on the H1 visa and your employer sponsors you. it ain’t like everyone who’s sitting in america is ‘automatically’ given a work permit.

    43. Roger — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:19 pm  

      Don’t know the breakdown, Leon. I know that refugees are in a dilemma: if they are waiting for acceptance as political refigees they can’t work officially. If they are turned down for refugee status but cannot be deported because they would be in danger if they were [yes, that does happen quite often] they also cannot work officially.
      Bikhair: it’s to make sure they are genuine political refugees rather than “economic migrants”. That’s the official reason. What it really means is that they provide cheap labour with no need to worry about health and safety, minimum wages, national insurance or any other conditions of employment.

    44. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:34 pm  

      just like the illegals in the US - how about that! :-)

    45. Geezer — on 15th May, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

      @Geezer, what did you think of this paragraph:[leon]

      Leon I agree the far right would love to play with such words and yell favouritism.

    46. Shuggy — on 15th May, 2006 at 8:35 pm  

      Research I saw a couple of years ago (sorry, don’t have a link) argued that family structure partly accounted for different levels of poverty within ethnic minorities. That having larger families makes you more likely to experience poverty, as does having only one breadwinner, is something that has been established since Rowntree’s York survey (1851, I think). Anyway, the thing I was reading found that Bangladeshis were more likely to have this family arrangement than Pakistanis, who in turn were more likely to have this than Indians. This corresponds to the average experience of poverty within these groups - with Indians being the most prosperous but Bangladeshis being the poorest. It also showed having only one breadwinner is a more important variable than having three or more children.

      The interesting thing for me was that this was shown to relate to religiosity - but that the Indian experience tended to suggest that it was not the particular religion one belonged to that mattered but rather the intensity of the adherence. Regardless of the particualr confessional division, the more religious you are, the more likely you are to have a traditional patriachial family, and the more traditional your family, the more likely you are to experience poverty.

      Have a big family and the chances are you’ll be poor - can’t help feeling this doesn’t reflect very well on the British economy. We don’t have one of the worst child poverty records in Europe for nothing.

    47. Jay Singh — on 15th May, 2006 at 8:53 pm  


      The thing that stands out for me from the report is the key nature of the level of women in the work force.

      Those communities in which the women are in employment have smaller families because the mother has to remain economically active, the family then devotes more time, money and discipline to ensuring their children get educated, leading to better subsequent rates of employment, as well as more income to buy a bigger house.

      It’s all about the women.

    48. John Browne — on 15th May, 2006 at 10:05 pm  

      I bet, instead of splitting it by religion you split it by geography and economics you would get a different set of results. For example, I’ll warrent that East African Asians (of all religions) are doing relatively well. I’ll warrent this will also be true of Malayian immigrants and Palastinians. Its my opinion if you immigrate from a deprived or backward community then you will also not be bringing a big wad of dosh with you and no PhD either.
      Its not rocket science, its bledin obvious. Of the Libyans that used to come here, nearly all of them came here to get an education. My wife now teaches adult immigrants (with little or no english) maths via one of these government schemes. Many seem to be taking this free education thing quite seriously - I guess coz a great deal is provided free by our government to help these gezzers and gezzerettes get on the ladder up.
      Abigail Witchells was training to be one of these government teachers too before you was stabbed.


    49. Ravi4 — on 15th May, 2006 at 10:31 pm  

      I remember the report Shuggy refers to as well - religiosity rathet than religion tends to correlate to poverty. As Jay Singh says that also tends to correlate to female economic activity. But you’ve also got to factor in the spcific circumstances of the immigrant “community” being discussed - eg whether they already had traditions which valued formal education, entrepreneurship etc etc.

      All in all, the story seems to suffer the same problem of most reductionist explanations of social phenomena - by correlating to just one factor (poverty to Islam) you often end up obscuring more than you explain. (Though to be fair I’ve not read the report yet - something to try and do sneakily at work tomorrow…)

    50. Sid — on 15th May, 2006 at 10:46 pm  


      I think you’re right. When I was working in Dhaka for the UN, I read study after study which showed that when comparing girls with even a minimum level of education with girls who were, caused a number of effects:
      1) The number of children went down for married girls who received an education
      2) The rate of infant mortality was reduced
      3) Maternal mortality reduced.

    51. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:42 pm  

      ravi4′s got a good point.

      incidentally who’s spending their time figuring out the correlation ( if any..) between why ‘chavs’, burberry and not ‘making it out of council housing’ and not going to university?

      apart from the people i work with..

    52. Unity — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:46 pm  

      I think the picture that’s emerging very rapidly from this discussion is that there are range of social, economic and cultural factors that can be readily identified as either confering advantages or disadvantages on particular communities, not just in the UK but globally and that, equally, those advantages/disadvantage hold true across all communities and cultures.

      The correlations that do exist are therefore far more granular and complex than the reductionist argument that Ravi correctly highlights as obscuring more than it reveals - there will be marked differences between a Turkish Muslim community, which comes to broadlly trading/mercantile culture which values education, entrepreneurship, etc. and a Mirpuri or Sylheti community whose background is largely rural/agrarian.

      To a considerable extent one of broad problems in understanding such issues, in this country, is the tendency of mainstream British society to deal in unhelpful ‘generics’ - terms like ‘Asian’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Indian’ etc can easily serve as barriers to understanding, particularly amongst policy-makers, as they mask the real degree of diversity to be found in minority communities and encourage well-intentioned but often futile ‘one size fits all’ solutions which simply don’t work.

    53. sonia — on 15th May, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

      good one unity.

    54. Sid — on 16th May, 2006 at 12:15 am  

      True but this report, from what I read, has already recognised this and expressly states that it primarily deals with South Asian Muslims. If it does anything it seems to group Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim patterns quite readily. I have no idea whether this is efficacious. This would suggest that Mirpuri and Sylhety girls have very similar social and religious dyanamics.

    55. Datley — on 16th May, 2006 at 4:20 am  

      I think now even indian muslims will have problem with the asian identifier…

    56. Sid — on 16th May, 2006 at 8:47 am  

      You’re referring to the
      “But wait. Please WAIT! Not all Asians are [Bangladeshi/Pakistani] Muslims!!!” Asian diclaimer, no doubt?

      Very often used here on PP as well. I think I heard a Radio 4 programme devoted to the whole issue. Could even be another post/thread.

    57. SajiniW — on 16th May, 2006 at 10:30 am  

      I think what we need is a new generation of community leaders, concerned with the here and now of Britain today.

      The more established patrons are still thinking of returning abroad. The second/third generation aren’t necessarily of that mindset.

      We need to think *how* we’re going to approach a generation more secular than the last, whilst not sidelining those who prefer a more conservative outlook.

      It’s not a simple question of ‘When in Rome?’ for the deprived communities; it’s a question of integration and encouragement of educational aspirations, something deprived families of all races may find to be a financial stretch too far.

    58. Jai — on 16th May, 2006 at 10:40 am  

      I agree that it’s not a good idea to generically blame religious beliefs for economic problems.

      It’s going to depend on the specific religion of the individual and the culture of the majority community that the person is attempting to function in. There are going to be different dynamics between a conservative Pakistani Muslim trying to work in London and a conservative Pakistani Muslim trying to work in Riyadh, for example.

      It’s not necessarily the religion itself which is the root of the problem, but the capacity of the adherent to effectively interact with the wider group consisting of people from a different background and who possibly possess different ideas and ways of social conduct (team-mates and, if appropriate, clients/customers/patients etc etc).

      Plus the adherent’s personal interpretation of his/her religion, and the compatibility of his/her behaviour resulting from this interpretation with the requirements of the broader working environment and social group, are also major factors.

    59. raz — on 16th May, 2006 at 10:48 am  

      ““But wait. Please WAIT! Not all Asians are [Bangladeshi/Pakistani] Muslims!!!” Asian diclaimer, no doubt?”

      And where to stop? Should Punjabi/Sindhi Pakistanis in the UK protest about being grouped together with Mirpuris? Should Bangladeshis from Dhaka refuse to be classified with those from Syhlet? It gets silly after a while.

    60. Zak — on 16th May, 2006 at 11:40 am  

      Well ethnic-geographic and economic factors ..geographic both here and there..I think the correct term should be self employment is highest amongst Muslims..I mean in relative terms I see more cars per person even in poor “Asian” areas than in white areas..

      I was writing about something similar in my blog..did you know 10% of the UK prison population is Muslim? But a significant number of them are actually reverts who discovered the faith in prison and quite few are in reality of an Asian background…

    61. SajiniW — on 16th May, 2006 at 11:43 am  

      A lot of the unemployed Muslims in the report may have been of African/Eastern European origin - recent immigrants who haven’t settled into employment yet.

    62. Jay Singh — on 16th May, 2006 at 11:51 am  


      Do you have stats on the ethnicity of the Muslims in prison?

      Why do so many prisoners convert to Islam?


      It does get ridiculous but at the same time it annoys me when basic errors are made - for example describing a gurdwara as a mosque as happens in newspapers occasionally, these things need to be corrected.

    63. SajiniW — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

      Islam is an attractive religion to those seeking a real sense of belonging. You don’t get seen as black or white first - you get seen as a Muslim.

    64. Unity — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:05 pm  

      >>> And where to stop? Should Punjabi/Sindhi Pakistanis in the UK protest about being grouped together with Mirpuris? Should Bangladeshis from Dhaka refuse to be classified with those from Syhlet? It gets silly after a while.

      It does and it doesn’t - there are some issues in which a generic approach makes perfect sense or, at least, does little or nothing to devalue the overall debate, while other issues require an approach that more explicitly recognises granular differences between communities.

      Classifications need to make sense within the context in which they’re used or they all to easily become either meaningless or misleading.

    65. sonia — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:46 pm  

      Hmm Sajini - do you mean in the context that islam sets itself out to be global not focused on one particular ethnicity?

      but it doesn’t really work out that way, as far as ive experienced. in theory maybe, and possibly for people in a certain context. its not as if all muslims ‘all truly’ consider themselves the same with no consideration to ethnic divisions - oh no. i can’t comment on the situation in Britain - not being british and not having grown up here, but certainly, in the other continents i’ve lived in - nope. after all, in countries where muslims are a majority, people take that commonality for granted, then look for further differences to distinguish themselves.

      the 1971 conflict and its fallout is a good example - i dont see many bengalis going around thinking ah my pakistani ‘brothers’ we have so much in common with you cos you’re muslims. quite the opposite! { sidenote on that - its interesting to see how ‘allegiances’ change as the context changes. the war on terror seems to be making a change to this dynamic slightly - need to think more about this..)

      which i guess is typical! we humans like to focus on differences rather than commonalities or so it would appear!

    66. Ravi Naik — on 16th May, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

      I see that I was off the mark by mentioning muslims as a whole, since it includes a lot of diverse ethnic groups, some of them quite succesful.

      I agree with a lot that has been written here, but I would like to stress that part of the problem is multiculturism itself, which doesn’t pressure communities to integrate into the mainstream culture.

      Reformist muslim has said that muslims in the US are much better economically. Isn’t it because the US
      model is a melting-pot? In South America (Venezuela) where I lived during my childhood years, we would be indistinguishable from the rest, no concept of minority or whatsoever.

    67. Jai — on 16th May, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

      Ravi Naik,

      =>”Reformist muslim has said that muslims in the US are much better economically. Isn’t it because the US
      model is a melting-pot?”

      Not necessarily; it has a lot to do with their immigration policies, which are slightly different to that of the UK.

      However, there may also be some intrinsic societal/cultural factors within the US which results in Muslims there attaining higher incomes/standards of living, although perhaps someone actually residing in the US (or with a significant degree of interaction with Muslims there) would be a better person to comment on that.

    68. SajiniW — on 16th May, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

      Sonia - yes, I did mean ‘that islam sets itself out to be global not focused on one particular ethnicity’… Sri Lanka, we have a heterogenous group of Muslims that prefer not to define themselves as Sinhala/Tamil; they call themselves Muslims and put their ethnic heritage on the backburner.

      I’ve also known a number of mixed-race Asian/White people who converted from a non-religious background to radical Islam. I personally thought the ‘defining’ lifestyle and global philosophy had something to do with it.

    69. Zak — on 16th May, 2006 at 6:41 pm  

      Sajin: interesting have you heard about the mass conversions/reversions to Islam in Rwanda sounds similar to Sri Lanka..

      jay: I don’t have an exact link but here is a radio show I heard on the subject

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