Yesterday Paul Goodman held a debate in Westminster Hall on Integration and Cohesion in Britain, focussing on the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain. As MP for Wycombe Paul Goodman has more Muslim constituents than any other Conservative MP and he has spoken before about the barriers that face Muslims wanting to integrate. Goodman says of the barriers:

They include racism and Islamophobia, lower life chances, intergenerational conflict, the failure of the multiculturalist consensus, foreign policy and, perhaps above all, the impact of ideology. In its most stark form, that ideology is one of terror—hence 9/11 and 7/7. In its less brutal form, it rejects terror in Britain but embraces separation. Separation, of course, inevitably leads to a lack of integration and cohesion and the “parallel lives” of which Cantle [in his 2001 report] warned.

In his speech Paul Goodman asks how we can end the separation that has grown up between Muslims and non-Muslims:

In my view, the origin of such a cure lies in strengthening the unwritten social contract that exists between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain. Under that contract, non-Muslims are obliged to recognise that Islam is now a permanent presence in Britain, that British Muslims have lower life chances than the non-Muslim majority as a whole, and that those life chances must be raised as part of any programme of social justice. In turn, Muslims are obliged to face up to the fact that Dhiren Barot, Richard Reid and the perpetrators of 7/7 claimed to act in the name of Islam, however unjustified that claim is, and recognise that the separatist ideology that I described earlier must not merely be condemned—it must be actively challenged, confronted and rooted out.

Conservative MPs Mark Field, Patrick Mercer and Michael Gove spoke in the debate, as did Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell and the Minister, Meg Munn. The full debate can be read here.

Andrew Burkinshaw

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