A Muslim Britain?

At St. Mary Magdalene Church, where the first stone was laid in the 12th century, the congregation has dropped to about 90 people on Sunday, and the average age of congregants is 75. Christenings are now rare, and there are only seven weddings booked for the year. - Anglican vicar, Philip Dearden

In an article in the NY times on April 2, 2007 Jane Perlez wrote in part: Clitheroe, England — This town opted to allow a former Christian church to become a mosque. The vote marked the end of a bitter struggle by the Muslim population to establish a place of worship, one that will put a mosque in a Methodist church. The battle underscored Britain’s unease with its Muslim minority, and particularly the infiltration of terrorist cells among the faithful, whose devotion has challenged an increasingly secular Britain’s sense of itself. Britain may continue to regard itself as a Christian nation but practicing Muslims are likely to outnumber church-attending Christians in several decades. With a population of 14,500 people in Clitheroe liked to think they represented a last barrier to the mosques that had become features in surrounding industrial towns. But Clitheroe had not bargained on the determination of Mr. Arshad - the British-born son of Mohamed Arshad, who came to Clitheroe from Rawalpindi in 1965.

“I thought, why should I be treated any less well?” Mr. Arshad said. Mr. Arshad and his father made eight applications for a mosque, and proposed buying a modest terrace house to be used for worship. Often there was booing at council meetings, and, he said, cries of “Go home, Paki! On the night of the vote on the mosque, the council chambers overflowed. The vote was 7 to 5 for the mosque; there was no violence. But the fight is hardly over. Beneath the official vote lies a river of resentment, some of the church’s windows have been smashed.

Today, of its Christians, only about 6 percent are regulars at church. Britain’s Muslims are far more regular mosque attendants. In working-class neighborhoods, the differences are stark between white Britons and immigrant Muslim Asians. The whites are less likely to marry, and they bear more children out of wedlock, trends many Muslims, find disturbing. The high rate of alcohol consumption among whites sets the groups apart, too. Increasing numbers of neighborhoods have become exclusively Muslim. Mr. Dearden, 64, said. “People don’t have a conscience about religion; they don’t come anymore.” In the nearby town of Kendal the Anglican vicar says Islam could now be seen as an alternative to Christianity. On a recent Sunday, only one child turned up to Sunday school classes. The story books, paper and pencils lay unused as an elderly teacher tutored the 6-year-old boy in an otherwise empty room. In contrast, Shamim Ahmed Miah, 26, a British-born mufti of Pakistani origin in Accrington, a town next to Clitheroe, teaches 30 Arabic and Koranic students, ages 5 to 15, in three sessions daily.


A Secular Humanist or Muslim Britain?

Posted April 2, 2007

14 comments:

Andrew Wilson said...

The trends in the UK are very worrisome. There are two communities whose separation is becoming greater than that of the protestants and catholics in Ireland.

England is certainly a secular society which seems to have no interests beyond what the local football team are doing. Alcohol and hooliganism is widespread and there have already been signs of these hooligans attacking the minority populations. When you see a middle of the road quiet town like the one mentioned in the article having "Go home, Paki!" shouted out in a meeting you know there is some form of racism very close to the surface.

Peace, Andy

Peter said...

I wonder how fundementalist is this minority population? Are we going to see all the problems with abortion, homosexuality, arguments with science, rearing its ugly head again in another format?

Take care,
Peter

James Carnaghan said...

Peter I don't see that it matters what people believe so long as they keep it to themselves and their work is not affected by their beliefs.

As an atheist I can tell you that here in Ireland I work with people who think the earth was created in six literal days. If they are taxi drivers or footballers or farmers, so what? Now if a guy is a pilot and doesn't believe in the principles of aerodynamics then I think we can legitimately discuss the matter.

Here is an idea ... why don't we secular humanists get together and take over all of these vacant Christian churches mentioned in the article to provide meeting places for ourselves. We could meet to set up mission programs, ways to contribute to charities, provide support and care for our communities like the Muslims and the Christians. After all as the article points out we are the majority group in the UK! We should be meeting weekly on Sundays!

Jim

Peter said...

Jim:

You should read today’s Birmingham Post article at:

http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/birminghampost/news/tm_headline=schools--afraid--to-teach-sensitive-history&method=full&objectid=18846195&siteid=50002-name_page.html

I quote:

"Midland faith leaders have called for a review of history education after the Government revealed schools were too scared to teach sensitive subjects such as the Holocaust and the slave trade. The report by the Historical Association and funded by the Department for Education and Skills found a number of schools had dropped controversial subjects because teachers did not want to cause offence.

The Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework was dropped because teachers feared confronting "anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils".

A department avoided teaching students about the Crusades because of concerns it would contradict what Muslim children were being taught in mosques.

The way the slave trade was taught could lead to white, as well as black, pupils, feeling alienated; Waqar Ahmedi, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, in Birmingham, who also teaches religious education at a senior school, said: "To teach issues to do with citizenship, teachers should be comfortable with teaching them, while taking into account the children's varying backgrounds. "Muslims shouldn't be given preferential treatment when it comes to education."

A spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality said the Historical Association’s report painted a worrying picture, while a spokesman for the DfES said: "The national curriculum is a broad framework and there is scope for schools to make their own decisions, taking into account their circumstances. But teaching elements including the Holocaust and key British events will be compulsory."

It does matter what people believe!

Take care,
Peter

Andrew Wilson said...

The churches here have been more concerned with proper rituals and procedures than examining the theology that the public no longer buys in to.

Why can science make progress while theology stays stuck in the middle ages? It's not like there is plenty of new material being published on modern Christian understandings.

I think the muslim population here is in the same state as Christianity was in the Victorian era. They have about 50-100 years to modernize or go the same way as Christianity in Britain.

BTW the situation in France is even more pronounced that in the UK.

Peace, Andy

Avid Reader said...

There is an excellent analysis of the European Muslim, Christian, Secular Humanism problem at this link:

http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=752

The writer, Johann Hari, is a columnist for the Independent newspaper based in London. He has reported from Iraq, Congo, Israel/Palestine, Latin America, and Northern Ireland. He begins the piece as follows:

“Over the last few years, the world has watched jihadist assassinations on the streets of Amsterdam, civilian slaughter in Madrid and on the London Underground, France’s car-and-vanities bonfire, and the global assault on Denmark after one of its newspapers dared to depict the Prophet Muhammad in a derogatory cartoon. For ordinary Europeans who pride ourselves on our multiculturalism and tolerance, the continent seems stranger and sadder. The windows of my apartment in London stare out toward the scene of a recent suicide-murder, and when they are open on a summer morning, the low wailing of a muezzin can be heard clearing the air. On the streets and in the mosques outside, jihadi young men distributing “death to democracy” leaflets subtly clash with young Muslim feminists who want an open, liberal Islam. Kaffiyas and headscarves contrast with makeup and wonderbras in a bewildering Islamic cacophony.

At last, books have appeared to try to fit these changed streets, scattered battles, and stray bombs into a broader intellectual context. They fall, broadly, into two schools. The first presents Europe’s fight as a Huntingtonian “Clash of Civilizations,” a war between democratic Europe and the fifteen million indigestible Muslims it has, they believe, foolishly imported from undemocratic countries. Some even predict—as Ronald Reagan’s former staffer Tony Blankley puts it—that “as hyper-tolerant, or even self-loathing, Europeans are confronted by intelligent, hyper-aggressive Muslims, a Darwinian life-or-death struggle will result in the death of European culture.”

The second school believes that this conservative analysis is a betrayal of democratic Muslim immigrants, a rebuke to the millions who have become Europeans and cannot be casually counted in the camp of jihad. They believe this is a civil war within the Muslim world, between Islamic fundamentalists and the Muslim moderates who despise them. The most optimistic of us even believe that hosting this fight is an extraordinary opportunity for Europe, because—if we manage it right—we can decisively tip Islam away from jihadism and trigger the long-awaited, long-delayed Islamic Enlightenment.

Most of the events that have ravaged Europe lately can be understood, at least superficially, through either prism. Look at the near-beheading of Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker and controversialist, by crazed fundamentalist Mohammed Bouyeri as he begged—in classic Dutch fashion—“Don’t do it! Surely we can talk about this!” Was Van Gogh murdered because he was an “infidel” who had dared defame Islam? Or was he killed because he had sided with moderate Muslims by making a film about the epidemic of domestic violence against immigrant women?”

I recommend this article!

As Ever,
DM

Brenda Moorhead said...

why is England referred to as a 'christian' nation and not a 'secular' nation?

it seems to me that it was christian in its past history and has a christian culture with respect to its laws that developed out of that but it is not 'christian' in any other sense.

Michael N. Hull said...

Peter: Fox News here in the USA seems to have picked up on your Birmington post story. See this link for the complete article...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,263802,00.html

The commentary says and I paraphrase:

"Here's what happens if this country goes the way of Britain and, for instance, caves in to Muslim pressure to change our laws and customs to suit new arrivals, such as is threatened in Minneapolis. There it is Somali-Muslims who want to dictate rules about who can be carried in a taxicab, and who taxi drivers must carry or lose their license.

In Britain this creeping Islamization has hit the public schools where teachers are avoiding some subjects in history, such as the Holocaust for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

The 11th Century Crusades were also not taught because the lessons often contradict what is taught in the local mosque. Can't have that. If the imam says up is down, then so be it. Same with the Crusades. If you want to know about all that, sonny, just get on down to the mosque.

The Brits are discovering that straight history is to be avoided in schools with Muslim children. The next thing we'll hear is that they are teaching mosque-approved history.

It is sometimes said by Islamic organizations that people who object to the situation I've just described are biased against Muslims. No. The bias is against change in law from English common law to Sharia law. The bias is against the massaging of history to suit the biases and prejudices of the student and his or her family.

It's happening to the Brits right now. Same as the hostage crisis. Our friends the Brits are an early warning system in these situations, and what is happening there is fair warning to us."

Regards,
Michael

Avid Reader said...

In the 2007 Irving Kristol lecture in Washington

http://aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.25815/pub_detail.asp

Bernard Lewis spoke in depth about the history of Christianity and Islam and the migration of muslims into non-muslim countries. Some interesting points he made that are relevant to this discussion were:

The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world, but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way.

In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily move to a non-Muslim country. There are obviously now many attractions which draw Muslims to Europe including the opportunities offered, particularly in view of the growing economic impoverishment of much of the Muslim world, and the attractions of European welfare as well as employment. They also have freedom of expression and education which they lack at home. This is a great incentive to the terrorists who migrate. Terrorists have far greater freedom of preparation and operation in Europe--and to a degree also in America--than they do in most Islamic lands.

How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to be made. One of them is the basic differences in what precisely is meant by assimilation and acceptance. Here there is an immediate and obvious difference between the European and the American situations. For an immigrant to become an American means a change of political allegiance. For an immigrant to become a Frenchman or a German means a change of ethnic identity. Changing political allegiance is certainly very much easier and more practical than changing ethnic identity, either in one's own feelings or in one's measure of acceptance. England had it both ways. If you were naturalized, you became British but you did not become English.

Polygamy, in particular--raises important issues of a practical nature. Isn't an immigrant who is permitted to come to France or Germany entitled to bring his family with him? But what exactly does his family consist of? They are increasingly demanding and getting permission to bring plural wives. The same is also applying more and more to welfare payments and so on. On the other hand, the enforcement of shari`a is a little more difficult. This has become an extremely sensitive issue. Another extremely sensitive issue, closely related to this, is the position of women, which is of course very different between Christendom and Islam. This has indeed been one of the major differences between the two societies.

Where do we stand now? They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

Ever, DM

Elizabeth Murray said...

“Today, in Western Europe, the Muslim share of the population is somewhere between 2 and 10 percent. In France, it’s 12 percent. In Switzerland, it’s an astonishing 20 percent. A glance at the relative rates of reproduction suggests this percentage will rise precipitously over the coming generation. Among native Western Europeans, the fertility rate ranges from 1.2 to 1.8 percent—well below the “replacement rate” of 2.1. This means the native populations will decline considerably over the next generation . . . and the number of Muslims will increase dramatically.”

http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=752

Isn’t thiswhat happened in North Ireland, the catholic population eventually won the demographic race?

Reason rules,
Liz

Peter said...

I think the problems with the separation of muslims in England from the rest of the pseudo-christian-secular population over there will not affect Ireland.

Here we are quite used to having people live separately so having another minority population here just adds one more blip to an already common situation. Jews in Ireland, for example, have all but been ignored by the majority Christian population.

Take care,
Peter

Michael N. Hull said...

Peter:

I've had some conversations on line with secular humanists in Ireland. What is your perception of the role they are playing or could play in your part of Ireland?

Regards,
Michael

Peter said...

Michael:

In a word zero.

Take care,
Peter

Pianoman said...

Yep - you have big problems brewing over there in merrie olde England! I read in the NY Times today that ...

Ruth Kelly, the British official in charge of reaching out to disaffected Muslims indicated that the government intended to take some steps to regulate and try to influence the affairs of Muslim religious institutions and mosques. She said imams working in government hospitals and prisons would be required to meet certain criteria, including having a good grasp of English. The government would emphasize the need for Muslim immigrants to be British as well as Muslim.

A number of imams in Britain who were born in Pakistan speak limited English and preach in Urdu. The government has said it is concerned that radical Muslim preachers are influencing inmates and encouraging prison networks devoted to extremist ideologies. Britain is struggling with how to counter radical jihadist ideologies that have taken hold among some Muslim young people here, particularly those of Pakistani descent.

More than 1.6 million Muslims live in Britain; most of them have strong ties to South Asia. Government-appointed committees with Muslim members, including a task force called Preventing Extremism Together, were supposed to come up with programs but have had limited success.

“There are too few homegrown imams, and some key institutions — like mosques — need strengthening,” Ms. Kelly said Thursday. On the question of the qualifications of Muslim religious leaders, Ms. Kelly said her department would start teaching them “leadership and communication skills.” That training would consist of assistance with fluency in English, a spokesman said. For Muslim preachers to be employed in government hospitals, colleges and prisons, they would have to meet this “framework of standards,” Ms. Kelly said.

A number of moderate mosques and imams signed a letter organized by the government to support Ms. Kelly’s program.

But the Muslim Council of Britain, the best known Muslim group, did not sign it.

Explain that!