Integration is a two-way street!
Integration is a two-way street!
The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has suggested that public sector workers like myself, a born and bred British teacher, and others like me, may have to take an Oath of Allegiance. The purpose of this would be to demonstrate an outward loyalty to Britain? Whilst probably posturing for the right, such proposals are not only unworkable but can stoke fear, and largely seem to be focussed on Muslim communities in particular.
When I say us, I’m referring to the Muslim community in the UK, which make up less than 5% of the population, currently. If he’s thinking about the Muslim community after the Casey Review, then let’s have a look at some of the statistics from another poll that has been conducted. A poll of 3000 Muslims in which 93% of the Muslim population of this country feel loyalty and an affinity to Britain above any other nation. This was regardless of where they had migrated from, and when they had migrated.
So what is the purpose of this oath? Is it to prevent any further extremism and terrorism that may fester in our midst, and if so, would all communities have to take it, or would it just be applicable to certain communities?
Are we saying all migrant communities then need to take an oath? If so how far back are we going, the Polish community, the Indo -Pakistani community? The Afro-Caribbean community or are we going back further-Huguenots? I don’t know how far back we go, because we have had migrants on this island for ever, since before the arrival of Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. So where do we draw the line?
Or is Sajid Javid saying only the recent arrivals would need to partake in such an oath? If so, then that’s where I have a problem. How recently would people have needed to arrive in the UK for them to take the oath?
I was born here, raised here, I went to school here, I went to university here, I work here, I raise a family here, I teach here; would I need to take an oath of allegiance? And then to add insult to injury, would my colleagues need to take an oath if they have been in the country for less time than me? Colleagues from New Zealand? Australia? South Africa? Afghanistan? Iraq?
What will the oath entail? Would it be an oath I would take and swear on my holy book, the Quran? Would it be something I just said, demonstrating ritualistic lip service?
If so, such an allegiance would just be making it harder for people to integrate. We are labelling people. When labelling society, ‘Them and Us’ emphasises the division. That is the toxic narrative that is being driven repeatedly in so many different ways, and on so many different platforms. It is therefore heightening the animosity that we have seen creeping steadily after Brexit and Trump, into the normal sphere of our society.
What such an oath does, is enhance that fear. It creates a culture of ‘Them and Us’ when there doesn’t need to be. I live in London, one of the most diverse cities, possibly in the entire world. My neighbours are from South Korea, from Nigeria, from India, and are also the white indigenous population (if you want to call them that). This Oath would label these people; they would be people and communities that belong, and those that don’t. Surely any such ritual would be completely counter–productive to the integration discussion and debate?
Reluctantly I quote the words of David Cameron; ‘integration is a two-way street’. I agree, as one cannot expect the guest community to integrate if the host community is going to be hostile, or fear the guest. The guest communities bring so much to this country, so much to this nation. It is human nature to fear the other, the unknown. It is this fear of the unknown and the fear of something different, the fear of something unfamiliar, which leads to this reluctance to integrate from the host community.
Again reluctantly, this time I quote Tony Blair: it is all about ‘Education, Education, Education,’ because it is only through education that one can dispel the ignorance that comes with these views. It is only with Education that the fear of the unknown can be addressed. It is only with Education that fear of the guest community can be diminished. I am being told to deliver a curriculum that ensures an understanding of British Values. But what does that even mean? Tolerance, respect, democracy? These are not just British values. These are core values. Britain does not own these ideals.
So I ask you again Sajid Javid MP, do you need take an Oath of Allegiance or is that just for The Others?
by Anjum Peerbacos