Taking Responsibility For Public Alienation

It’s wrong to blame Muslims for failing to integrate, says Terry Sorensen, when Britain’s political class can’t talk convincingly about its own values.

In the Channel 4 documentary, ‘What Muslims Really Think’, and again in an article for the Daily Telegraph, Trevor Phillips seemed dangerously close to blaming Muslims for not doing enough to integrate themselves into British society, while reserving some of his criticism for left-wingers who have been too keen to appear politically correct.

Not what you might expect from the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who was previously head of the Commission for Racial Equality.

While there are a few people within the Muslim community who harbour extremist views, and many more who do not feel fully engaged either with Britain’s institutions or with ‘the British way of Life’, surely this is primarily a failure of UK integration policy – it is Britain which has failed to convince enough people that it has a civilisation worthy of that description.

To counter such tendencies, the way forward is to educate and engage these communities, offer work, and include them in society, not to stipulate that anything on offer is conditional on prior evidence of integration. This will only lead to greater divides between the communities and will actually take things in the wrong direction.

Unemployment is key. If people get opportunities to work, they’ll feel more part of society and there will be less reason to harbour extremist views or to feel alienated from mainstream British life.

If we are going to insist that someone has to be part of the social fabric, it’s up to us to show why they should be sewing themselves into it.