Government report targets Muslims over integration

Dame Louise Casey

A government report has yet again seemingly targeted the Muslim community and accused it of failing to integrate into British society.

The Casey Review said segregation and social exclusion are at “worrying levels” and are fuelling inequality in some areas of Britain, and women in some communities are denied “even their basic rights as British residents.”

Dame Louise Casey also accused public bodies of ignoring or condoning divisive or harmful religious practices for fear of being called racist.

Dame Louise’s review into the integration of minorities was commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron as part of the government’s efforts to tackle extremism.

Among her recommendations were that immigrants could take “an oath of integration with British values and society” and schoolchildren be taught British values.

Her review said there was a sense that people from different backgrounds got on well together at a general level, but community cohesion “did not feel universally strong across the country.”

She found “high levels of social and economic isolation in some places, and cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back, but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws.”

Her report highlighted the plight of women in some Muslim communities, who she said were less likely to speak English and more likely to be kept at home.

“Misogyny and patriarchy has to come to an end,” Dame Louise said, adding that public institutions must not fear being racist or Islamophobic.

The report made several recommendations, including:

  • Councils should regularly collect statistics on hate crime or deficiencies in English
  • Schools should promote British values to help build integration, tolerance and citizenship
  • A review of the “rights and obligations” of immigrants likely to settle in the UK
  • Funding for school projects that encourage children of different backgrounds to mix
  • More funding for local English language classes and a review of whether courses are reaching people who need them
  • Councils should investigate whether their housing policies help or hinder integration
  • New oath for public office-holders pledging “tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”

British MuslimsHarun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, called the report a “missed opportunity.”

He said: “Any initiative that facilitates better integration of all Britons should be welcomed, and we certainly endorse the few, fair and supportable suggestions proposed by the Casey Review. This includes the promotion of the English language, sharing of best practice across the nation and a range of measures to tackle exclusion, inequality and segregation in school placements. And while we agree that forced marriages, FGM, honour based killings and other practices have no place in modern Britain, we would argue that our faith tradition can be deployed to tackle what are essentially cultural practices…

“Sadly, however, I fear that this report could be a missed opportunity. We need to improve integration, and it needs to involve the active participation of all Britons, not just Muslims. As former Prime Minister David Cameron has stated, ‘integration is a two-way street.’ The report has little discussion on white flight, and could have delved deeper into the economic structural barriers to integration.

“In our submission to the Casey Review, the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted the ‘culture of fear is emerging which is a big driver in preventing a more united and cohesive society.’

“We said: ‘We must recognise that our public discourse and conversation has a part to play in furthering integration. Integration is fostered when the media reports on stories that speak of achievement of minorities, of people coming together and where national moments are shared by all.’

“We also said ‘for too long Muslims have had to endure a media echo chamber which amplifies the misconception that Muslims and their faith are incompatible with life in Britain. We dispute these notions. It assumes that Muslims are not equal, and not civilised enough to be part and parcel of British society. It leads to discrimination against Muslims, alienation amongst Muslims where the national conversation dictates that they are not part and parcel of society, and, at worst, violent attacks against Muslims.’”

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