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The UK press, multiculturalism and the elephant in the room

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Exclusive to The Daily Banter

By Nana Kofi Mensah


Daily Mail and Telegraph are up in jubilant arms. For those of you that

don’t know, I am referring to the British right wing press, whose

standard polemic against immigration and British multiculturalism

received a boost from an article published on Friday in the Royal

United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal.


the RUSI piec

e, Professor Gwyn Prins and Lord Salisbury criticised the

UK’s “misplaced deference to multiculturalism”, that has allegedly

“failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities, thus

undercutting those within trying to fight extremism." The

y go on by

saying, "the country’s lack of confidence is in stark contrast to the

implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Hazel Blears talks on the


about the government’s efforts to integrate communities by encouraging English language usage.

Surely, these people are missing the point. There is an elephant in the room they would rather ignore: U.K Foreign Policy.


it is true that frictions between various Muslim communities and the

national body pre-date the war in Iraq, no serious pundit would argue

that matters have not become markedly worse since March/April 2003 when

the British government acted against popular will by taking us into a

legally ambiguous conflict in the Middle East. The offense has been

compounded by a one-sided stance on the Israel-Palestine question. See,

for example,

Tony Blair


comments during the Lebanon conflict of last year. I'm referring to

nonsensical statements such as ‘A ceasefire would not be useful at this

time’ made while the Lebanese were dying in their hundreds, mostly

civilians. Collective punishment in the Gaza strip today is met with


The reality of 21



Great Britain

is one of Diaspora. Communities within the multicultural


have ties of kinship outside the


that are not Anglo-Saxon. Therefore, when we reproduce traditional

geo-political strategies, there are new implications for British

citizens. And these are Britons we are talking about. Hazel Blear's

“let’s make sure everyone speaks English” drive is a non-sequitor. The

people that bombed


on 7


July 2005 had no problem speaking English. The kids hopping on planes to train in


speak with our regional accents. In terms of long term nation building,

I think it makes sense to ensure that English is universally understood

in the British isles or as close to that as possible.

However, with regard to the immediate threat of


born Islamist terrorism, language is not the problem. Public policy, in

particular foreign policy, reinforces the “otherness” of our British

Muslims for reasons outlined above. When the RUSI report talks as it

does of a crisis of confidence... Well, of course there is. The British

Empire passed from existence within living memory and we are now

extricating ourselves from a morally bankrupt military engagement in

the middle-east. Confidence will come with time and a more honest

alignment between our values and our actions. Let’s not give up on

multiculturalism because of the shortfall between those latter two.