Yesterday in a key note speech the British PM, David Cameron, declared that Multiculturalism has failed but he thankfully made a clear distinction between Islam and Islamism / Political Islam. He basically called upon if not challenged British Muslims to uphold British values which he has redefined as ‘muscular liberalism’.
Initially I was stunned as I am a product of this multicultural system and I have always strongly refuted Muslim extremism especially during my working life. I have enjoyed a cosmopolitan education that has and continues to broaden my horizons beyond measure.
Multiculturalism has ensured social cohesion for the last 40 years and has transformed the United Kingdom into one of the most diverse and tolerant societies on the planet. It is also one of the key ingredients that have established London as the global capital of finance which is the engine of our economy. Consequently the richest man in England is a person of Indian origin namely Laksmi Mittal and one of the national favourites is chicken tikka masala which is an excellent example of the fusion between east and west. It is also a little known fact but one of the leading wine tasters / connoisseurs is a British Muslim! Recently Muhammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for this pioneering work fighting poverty initially in Bangladesh and now in New York as well.
So what is muscular liberalism and why are the actions of a tiny minority of extremist Muslims dictating UK social policy? Is not the peaceful co-existence of all peoples and creeds a noble ideal? Thus it is an irony that the Prince Charles upon his investiture would like to become defender of the faiths rather than the faith!
I appreciate that there is a challenge of extremism in my community but I feel that the PM is severely out of touch with the intense intra-Muslim debates that raging all over the world. I agree with Slavoj Zizek that ‘leftist’ thinking is a bulwark against all types of extremism thus we do not need to choose between Islamism or material liberalism. The ‘leftist’ tradition in my faith has always been Sufism and throughout history great Muslim saints / Sufis have successfully challenged extreme orthodoxy and oppression.
I find it strange that the PM is asking me to uphold the rule of law, respect the rights of all minorities and women, respect freedom of speech especially when it may hurt my sensibilities, endorse sexual freedom and choice etctctct...Which I willingly and crucially enjoy doing when UK PLC continues to cut deals and wine and dine oppressive regimes whose human rights records would not even score a fail in our educational system.
I am so glad that I tore up my Conservative membership several years ago!
And a toast to MULTICULTURALISM...which has helped me to become the son, brother, father, husband, friend, teacher, researcher, consultant and above all MUSLIM that I am...