‘I’m A Muslim, but I’m Not a Terrorist’: Segregation vs Integration

Integration as social policy in the UK has fallen short of delivering anything but inequality and injustice. Rather, in its use since 9/11 it has become a convenient banner under which it is justifiable and convenient to target and discipline British Muslims. This was clearly demonstrated by David Cameron’s recent speech on the ‘failure of multiculturalism’, categorically singling out Muslims as most in need of integration into British values. The contemporary debate has reduced all social issues to questions of cultural differences and conflicting value systems. Public voices in the media have now made it fashionable and respectable to possess anti-Muslim sentiments. 

Representation of Muslims in the media shows that British Muslims are associated with terrorism, cultural/religious  difference and extremism. The common nouns that are used to represent Muslims in the media are ‘terrorist’, ‘extremist’, ‘Islamist’, ‘suicide bomber’ and ‘militant’. This is clearly breeding a culture of animosity towards Muslims.  

The specific targeting of a minority group is not new to the British Polity. Stuart Hall’s et al ( 1978)  ‘Policing the Crisis’ tells us that in the 1970’s mugging was used to create a panic and fear of Black Caribbean youths. Just as mugging came to be necessarily associated with Black youth crime, so ‘terrorism’ is now used as a synonym for Muslims. The debate has shifted however. Integration is no longer concerned with issues of housing and physical segregation but concerned with differing and conflicting value systems.

Underlying the present policy of promoting ‘British values’ is the assumption of its monolithic nature which Muslims must obediently adapt into. This assumption clearly indicates a lack of analytic insight. There exists a clear and conspicuous divide between White working and White Middle classes which, quite appropriately, clearly forego any mention in the segregation debate. White Middle Classes assume an authoritative position by emphasizing their unarticulated values as the norm and what needs to be integrated into by the Muslims. All the whilst, White Working classes are brushed aside and quite commonly perceived as ‘losers, no hopers, low-life scroungers’ not worthy of representing anything ‘British’ at all.

Secondly, the promotion of British values presupposes the superiority of Britishness and the inferiority of the ‘other’. Lord Macaulay’s children are clearly following their forefather’s footsteps.

What are we to do? I cannot predict any hope in the foreseeable future. The unfair pressure, victimisation, discrimination, prejudice and racism that is felt by Muslims only leads to frustration and anger. What needs to be done then is to shift away from de-radicalisation programs, removal of  dictatorial foreign and military policy towards Muslim countries and listening to the voices of Muslim concern in the UK.           

Shazad Khan



  1. Your most interesting blog yet.

    Would you assert that multiculturalism has succeeded? What legacy does it have other than council sponsored eid and Diwali festivals and bilingual books in local libraries?

    Would it be wrong of the indigenous British to believe that the culture and values that gave developed in and shaped Britain for the last two thousand odd years (whatever and however distinct they may be from non-British culture) should be ‘superior’ over other cultures and values?

    How many of our ancestral homelands would be as accommodating as the British of non-Muslim culture?

    For my part, anecdotally Muslims do seem to ghettoise themselves and I would hazard a guess that the ‘average’ Muslim has far less meaningful social contact with the ‘other’ than does the ‘average’ Afrocarrobean, Hindu or Sikh.


  2. @ Hanif,

    Speaking to elders, anecdotally, usually highlights the reasons for this apparent “ghettoisation” – racism. They experienced racism and violence at the hands of the white man. They still do. Go into a white area today – you will very likely get a racist slur thrown at you. Living with your “own” presents a more comfortable atmosphere.

    Secondly to assert superiority of one culture is one thing – forcing it upon others is a different thing altogether.

    Further, comparisons to other “homeland” countries is flawed:

    1) Muslims here do not impress or force upon others their own culture

    2) Our homelands have suffered under their colonial blessings – any response must bear this in mind. Historically, the British were welcomed in India (my homeland which included Pakistan at the time). But they subverted the existing rule (at that time) and forced upon their own version of what was right and wrong upon the “barbaric Muslim” and suppressed the voices of the “Mad Mullahs” through mass killing. The resultant back lash to “Western” influence is expected.

    3) The UK along with the West asserts itself as the leaders in terms of human rights and democracy. Within human rights the sub-topic of minority rights is contained within it. Using the premise of the West that our “homelands” are backward and lacking in civility (this is deduced from their various assumptive statements, constant bombardment of “vile crimes” in Arab and other Muslim countries presented to us in the media) one would think the West would lead by example, since they have taken the mantle of being “democratic” and ordering others to be “democratic” and adopt human rights.

    To then target a group and jeapardise the security of a minority (various attacks on Mosques have been reported since since his speech: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/09/cameron-scapegoating-muslims-toxic-impact) is oxymoronic to say the least. To further realise that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came on the back of the genocide of the Jews in Europe, who were being treated not dissimiliarly to Muslims in Europe today, then the position of the West is further thrown into dismay.


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