Dame Louise Casey was asked recently by the Government to look into integration within modern Great Britain. She has the type of background that would make them lean toward her for such a task. She has worked extensively in the charity sector with the homeless and such. She was brought up in Portsmouth which has its fair share of peoples living there from all points of the compass.

She has made much within her subsequent report about females within the Muslim communities being left behind, in fact most of her recommendations and findings are about this problem. The culture within the Muslim community will never change unless there is a determined will to do so, this will take many generations. Men will, by their very DNA being raised in a culture where women are seen as second class, not easily want to give up that power and control.

Muslim communities could very easily begin the process of modernisation by allowing, note the word allowing, not encouraging or supporting, women to dress not in the burka but in modern western clothing. Women should of course be encouraged to learn the English language and therefore increase greatly their chance of full time meaningful employment. Women from these communities should be allowed to learn to drive, and move around without a chaperone. This culture is not prevalent throughout the whole Muslim community of course but it is still very prevalent in our modern society.

Faith schools are mentioned in the report, this is true segregation, it in stills in children from a very young age that they are different and must not stray from their grouping. Competition is transferred from the playground and sports field to the faith and denomination of religion. Segregation by gender is practised at these schools across the faith spectrum and this again supplements social integration.

Groups of people arriving from a different country, speaking a different language are bound to stay together, they will settle and feel safe within their own community. They will help each other out and in build support systems. If however in that new country they were made very welcome, assisted and encouraged in learning the spoken language and the indigenous people made an extra effort to integrate with them surely they could not then argue that they have been left in isolation to fend for themselves. Also the indigenous peoples could not make the argument, as they do, that these new communities have not tried to assimilate themselves.

It seems to be that the way forward with any future integration lies with a simple ‘who should now make the first move’. For any such move to be made there has to be a will to do so and it seems to me that that is where the problem lies.

It is an enormous task and one not easily achieved. Historical stereotyping, acts of violence, suspicion and rhetoric will not easily be forgotten, if ever. The starting point must be with children and their education. Tolerance has an enormous part to play and must be taught from an early age, this of course has not a chance in segregated class rooms.

Two other elements will always contribute to integration being unsuccessful. The first is the continual large influx of new people which only piles on the pressure. A third of a million people arriving annually contributes nothing toward integration as services from all sectors just cannot cope with a never ending stream. Even those recently arrived and settled will and in some cases have become resentful of continued uncontrolled unmanaged immigration. They see and understand quite quickly that the host country cannot cope with the large numbers arriving along with the potential for many more.

The second and more worrying element is the increasing demand that the host country changes its ways to accommodate increasing influences of new and very different culture, religion and social behaviour. The host country must from the outset be strong and resolute that it will not tolerate nor accept demands for such changes. If the indigenous people begin to now backtrack on things that they have allowed to become mainstream and acceptable this will only lead to resentment and inevitably potential conflict.

If however the indigenous population say firmly, enough!And then ignore the inevitable cries of racism. Then that is a red line drawn and clarity is established.It cannot be right on any level that host countries be expected to change or disallow century old traditions, ceremonies or behaviour to appease the religious or cultural sensibilities of newly arrived peoples to whom they have kindly afforded sanctuary.

To throw more money at integration will simply not work. It may temporarily ease the conscience of political operators but it will inevitably just paper, and very thinly, over an enormous fissure within our society. There has to be on all sides an enormous effort of will. All peoples from all religions, social groups and ethnic backgrounds must simply arrive at a point and time together where they feel the will and readiness to mend and move forward.

Photo by tuchodi

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