Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What do UK Muslims do, when not unsettling the natives?

For God and Country
The Sunday Times
May 07, 2006

Forget the scaremongering — UK Muslims are more concerned with speed dating, scout groups and women’s football than dismantling our way of life. Lesley White spent months among their communities and discovered that they don’t have to support the England cricket team to be British

This is the start of Ramadan, on a sweltering Sunday afternoon last September. I am sitting in a burger bar in Newham, east London, where the air is thick with the stench of stale fat. My companion, Omar, in white flowing robes, is the publisher of an online Muslim newsletter, and so visibly religious that the owner asks us to leave. Not an act of bigotry, but because, in these days of fasting, Omar is putting off embarrassed Muslim customers. Two years ago, Omar began publishing Islamic Events & Notices, a listing of social, sporting and spiritual events (the Muslim Time Out). Its contents are by turns pious – a talk on “fear of Allah” – and funny – “sisters’ aloe vera party” – and unfathomable, as in a workshop on the “ideal Muslim personality”; but he won’t plug anything aggressive, divisive or “unhelpful”.

Using the newsletter as my guide, I joined Muslim speed-daters, professional networkers, scouts and self-defence teachers. Sadly, I never got through to the woman auditioning for a Muslim performing-arts school (I doubt it was Fame in burkas), and today’s event at Omar’s local community centre is frustrating for its organiser. “To learn about fostering,” he complains, “not many turn up, but for a debate on Armageddon the place will be packed. That’s Muslims.”

The day after the July bombings in London, I travelled on the capital’s Underground, watchful for preoccupied Koran-readers. Daubed over an advertisement in my carriage were the words “Arabs are shit”. The insult was really aimed at Muslims: people some fear are living in thrall to an irrational, omniscient, feudal religion and who therefore might be capable of anything in its name, whose belief is rippled with a sort of madness, who are – whatever else they appear – soldiers in the furtherance of a holy war, a reverse Crusades.

Muslims are growing faster than any other minority, arriving from Africa, Chechnya, Jordan, Kosovo, united in a faith that supersedes national frontiers. A community leader in Leicester talked proudly of the young community in which one-third are under the age of 15; he talked of Muslims in Britain being “the future”. Not unnaturally, we are suspicious of this virile tribe, which has a stronger identity than the British sense of self, and an unbending rigour. Maybe we are also hurt that it doesn’t want to join in. Yet of the estimated 1.8m Muslims (an extrapolation from the last census) who live in this country, only the thinnest paring are political, and even fewer committed “jihadis”.

What do the others do when not unsettling the natives?
Live just like us, as the liberal Establishment would love us to believe? Not at all, actually.

read the complete article here