When in Rome ......

Posted 7 Feb 2011 by Walaa Idris

After spending most of the weekend listening to Muslims and non Muslims alike tell me how as a Muslim I should feel about David Cameron’s Multiculturalism speech – I decided to share my feelings.

For starts I am elated that this very important issue is finally at the forefront and being openly aired and discussed. Unlike the previous administration, the current one and its leadership are neither afraid nor apologetic for speaking out and stating the facts as they stand.

Unsurprisingly, many on the left, after years of succeeding to stifle all debate regarding Islam, multiculturalism and God forbid Islamist and Islamic terrorism, are livid at the idea that Prime Minster Cameron, would speak up on an issue which dominated our society for most of this century, but was quietly swept under the carpet for fear of being labelled racist, fascist and a bigot – even at the expense of lives and the security of our nation!

And although most, including some lefties has welcomed the speech in its entirety, others attacked it, by finding faults in its contents and its timing. Apparently the speech taking place on the same day a fringe group, the EDL, marched in Luton should have been cause for the Prime Minster to alter his international agenda! The Prime Minster was also accused of singling Muslim Terrorist and that too was untrue and incoherent as in his speech David Cameron said: “It’s important to stress that terrorism is not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group. My country, the United Kingdom, still faces threats from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.”

They went further with their accusations saying the speech was insensitive, indiscriminate and that it tarred all Muslims. As a Briton and a Muslim myself, I felt no such things – on the contrary I felt vindicated that the head of state and the leader of my party clearly understood the differences between Islam and Islamism and the danger the later poses to our security and here’s what he said: “We have got to get to the root of the problem, and we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism. We should be equally clear what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority.”

It is easy to point the figure, lay balm and become self righteous over every issue and at every turn, but the true measure of a leader is in how he faces the difficult issues of the day and in making the unpopular but needed decisions.

Today in Britain, there are many Muslims like myself who feel our peaceful, forgiving and inclusive religion is hijacked and tarnished by extremist. We also feel that multiculturalism as practiced by the previous government is a form of segregation and ghettoisation not integration or assimilation. To fully amalgamate in the British society does not mean to lose ones own identity or individuality but it means to respect and accept the British way of life and to make an effort to understand Britishness. None of us, emigrants, refugees, or Britons born to non British parents was forced to become British and therefore, equally none of us have the right to force Britain to become anything else.

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