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.