Monday, July 10, 2006

How many Brit Muslims pass the Tebbit Test?

...Former minister Norman Tebbit, once a close ally of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, invented the "cricket test" or "Tebbit test" in 1990 when he infamously spoke about the supposed split loyalties of immigrants to Britain.
His theory, which caused an uproar at the time, is that a person could only be classed as truly British if he or she supported England at cricket.
A poll showed in February that 91 percent of British Muslims are "loyal" to Britain and 80 percent still want to live in and accept Western society.
Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw praised in March 27 the valuable contributions by British Muslims to society, calling the some 1.8 million minority an integral part of Great Britain.
Between 1970 and the late 1990s, many Pakistanis living in Britain suffered racist abuse, which discouraged them from wanting to support England at anything.
Some claim they were discouraged from joining cricket clubs because of the color of their skin, while others tried to support England but were laughed at for doing so.
In addition, the British press fuelled racist sentiment and there were barely any Asian faces on the England cricket team.
[...]Professor Muhammad Anwar, of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick, said the "British factor" plays a key role in British Muslims' affinity towards England.
"The main thing is that 99.9 percent of these people regard themselves as British Pakistanis and British Muslims. That British factor is important for identity and loyalty," he said.
But Anwar insisted that it was impossible to judge an immigrant's Britishness on the cricket team he or she backed.
He maintained that more and more second and third generation British Asians were rooting for England when it came to the crunch.
Naeem Akhtar, an IT analyst who runs a website for Pakistan cricket fans, agreed that it does not matter whether British Pakistanis want England or Pakistan to win they are all still British citizens at heart.
"Being British isn't just supporting the team, it is more about your way of thinking," said Akhtar, who is a life-long Pakistan supporter despite moving to Britain as a child.
"I accept multiculturalism 100 percent. The way I talk, the way I bring up my kids is more in the British way than the Pakistani way. The future for me isn't Pakistan, the future for me is being British."