7 February 2011
After Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the model of multiculturalism at state level has failed, a heated debate has sprung up. Tariq Modood writes a fervent plea for multiculturalism and shows some of the many examples of where it is already in practice. The Independent reports of attacks from Muslim groups and the Labour Party on the Prime Minister, who is said to be “livid” about the reactions. The BBC gives a feature of what different parties of the debate and academics understand by “multiculturalism”, while the New Statesman calls Cameron’s remarks cynical, but also shows disappointment with the Labour Party’s response. The Financial Times and a Daily Telegraph blog acknowledge the importance of the Prime Minister’s speech as a warning against Islamic extremism.
Five years after the terrorist attacks on the London underground, the papers review what has changed since then in terms of security, anti-terrorism laws and the situation for British Muslims.
The Guardian features a comment on the lost narrative of British Muslims, who have been “stigmatised en masse” by some media and government policies. Another Guardian article talks of the flaws of neo-liberal government policies towards terrorism that have only increased the risk of new attacks, which another comment in the same paper supports, claiming that the government’s “Prevent strategy” has not made anyone any wiser and urging the government to learn how to work with “ordinary Muslims”. A commentator of The New Statesman describes how his life, being a commuter and a Muslim living in Britain, changed on 7/7 2005. The London Daily News commemorates the victims and lists the names of those deceased in the attacks, while The Independent talked to those who witnessed the bombings but survived them, and gives an insight into how they cope with the experience today.
The liberal and traditionally secular weekly The New Statesman dedicates its latest issue to prejudices against Islam in Britain. The issue, entitled “Everything you know about ISLAM is wrong”, features articles by ex-extremist Ed Husain, Tariq Ramadan and Ziauddin Sardar. The lead article calls for supporting British Muslims who are being alienated due to terror alerts and sensational reports. Strong prejudices prevail, as the last British Social Attitudes Survey has shown, and the article demands better integration models and ending the negative news coverage about Muslims.
Tariq Ramadan in his article deconstructs the simplistic portrayal of “bad” Muslims versus “good” Muslims, which people turn into visible and invisible Muslims. He explains how it is possible to be a moderate and openly practicing Muslim, who embraces democracy and is capable of giving reasonable political criticism. Ed Husain describes his Islamist past and the difficult journey away from the radical worldview and argues for a secular version of political Islam. Finally, Ziauddin Sardar reflects on the orientalism in Christopher Caldwell’s book on Islamic immigration, while Mehdi Hasan interviews Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on inter-faith relations.