A new British government-commissioned report has determined that despite a long and sustained effort by the British government to boost social integration of immigrants, there is a great degree of social segregation.
And while this is a blow to the strong desire for social cohesion and a strong British identity amongst its people, it also may have consequences in the security realm.
The head of the year-long study, integration tzar, Dame Louise Casey, criticised the government’s mediocre efforts. “The problem has not been a lack of knowledge but a failure of collective, consistent and persistent will to do something about it or give it the priority it deserves at both a national and local level,” Casey stated.
One group that has for a while now felt particularly segregated from British society are Britain’s Muslim citizens. In the report, Casey shares that she observed a “vicious cycle” where Muslims feel they are being blamed for terrorism and extremism, which in turn lead them to feelings of suspicion and mistrust, and even hostility.
In a time when Islam finds itself vulnerable to attempted hijackings by extremists, the stakes are very high. And the British should have some concern over how their Muslim brethren feel.
Moreover, Casey found that in some predominantly Muslim areas, she “met far too many women who are suffering from the effects of misogyny and domestic abuse, women being subjugated by their husbands and extended families. Often, the victims are foreign-born brides brought to Britain via arranged marriages.
They have poor English, little education, low confidence, and are reliant on their husbands for their income and immigration status. They don’t know about their rights, or how to access support, and struggle to prepare their children effectively for school.”
These women’s lack of education, isolation and subjection to their husbands could very well leave a group rich in potential anti-extremist sentiments powerless. Muslim women are often the first to realize the extremism is, most of all, extremely wrong, since they are the first to be its victims.
The combination of the two factors — the distrust of Islam by non-Muslim British citizens and the oppression of Muslim women — create the sort of environment that is most likely conducive to radicalization.
Casey’s proposed solution for the segregation and negative feelings that many British Muslims have toward their country is a major new strategy to help bridge the divides in UK towns and villages is an “integration oath” to inspire immigrants to embrace British values, more focus on English language education, actions to encourage mixing among young people (who tend to be more open-minded) and “women’s emancipation in communities where they are being held back by regressive cultural practices.”