Britain can be tolerant and united
With reports of increasing numbers of hate crimes, it could be easy to imagine that in the matter of a few days Britain has transformed into an intolerant and xenophobic place. It’s certainly depressing to read stories about anti-Muslim abuse in schools, on the street and the widely reported idiotic racism on a tram in Manchester.
But take a closer look at the YouTube video of the incident on the Manchester tram. As the youths shouted their insults, the other commuters looked on in horror. Several told the oafs to get off the tram. When a Polish centre in Hammersmith, west London was attacked, Londoners left gifts and messages while national politicians turned up to offer their support. From Northampton to Bristol, flowers have been exchanged as a sign that friendships and community cohesion cannot be destroyed so easily.
There’s no doubt that extremists have wanted to turn recent political events into an excuse to abuse Muslims and other groups in Britain who they feel should not be a part of this country’s future. But we need to keep a sense of perspective.
The overwhelming majority of Britons have not become overnight bigots. Of course we must be vigilant and defend the cohesion and assimilation that has been achieved. But we mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking that this country has turned hostile. Muslims remain part of the fabric of Britain and young Muslims will be among tomorrow’s successful business and political leaders.
The Association of British Muslims is the UK’s oldest Muslim organisation. During our existence, we have seen the position of Muslims in this country massively transformed. The whole of British society has become more open, outward looking and optimistic. This is not the more insular society of several decades ago and few people really want to return to some mythical utopia of yesteryear.
Britain can lead the way in creating a pluralist society. Let’s hold our nerve in this short period of instability.