Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Fear of the Take-Over

In a strange way, my previous three posts are interconnected.

I initially wrote about gatekeeping against the inclusion of Muslims, then put up an attempt at a poem from about a year ago and have described the current local preventing extremism situation which seems to repeat the mistakes or deliberate exclusions of yesteryear.

Somebody asked me recently why I felt there was resistance amongst some gatekeepers towards the inclusion of Muslims. There are various reasons for this, one of these I am sorry to say is anti-Muslim discrimination and if I was to be generous then I would suggest that this fear is down to the local demographics: Muslims form the largest minority in Bradford, and so attempts are made at regular intervals and from different angles to reduce the impact that this may have (including the rather ridiculous notion of there being no Muslim community - well, as we now know, there are no Muslims in Bradford). This is part of my explanation at our continuing collective failure on matters that affect the whole of Bradford, whether this be educational underachievement, community cohesion, youth crime and public participation.

Jim Greenhalf, one of the journalists for the local newspaper, has recently written on this. He notices this fear that people have of some future Muslim take-over, this was raised when i conducted my research in Bradford in the late nineties. It seems to remain with us. But he rubbishes it by describing the internal dynamics of the Muslim community. It is one community, yes (which exists and does not exist in the same moment - those who see the community like this are prejudiced in my view), and yet it is internally differentiated and it is not likely to take over in the next three years. Jim Greenhalf recognises this and in so doing recognises the contribution and humanity of the community that he is describing. It is a departure from the stance of those who seek to continue exclusion.

This is my fourth post now on the inclusion of Muslims in Bradford. For those reading this, it should be clear, we have a problem here, five years after Ouseley and Cantle.