Hindu Vivek Kendra
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An honest warning

An honest warning

Publication: The Sunday Times, UK
Date: May 12, 2002

Peter Hain is right to warn of the dangers that some British Muslims pose to their own community as well as to the national interest. His impeccable anti-racist credentials make his comments about the cultural isolationism of Muslim separatists in our midst all the more telling. As minister fore Europe he is doubly well placed to sound the alarm about Islamic asylum seekers who expect Britain's way of life, sometimes even refusing to learn English. We ask our politicians to be more honest: Mr Hain's measured comments met that obligation.

Cultural ghetto building undoubtedly poses a greater danger to race relations than ever before. Mr Hain will be accused of stirring up prejudice and inciting yob attacks on our ethnic minorities, but in fact he is doing the reverse. He is warning those misguided enough to stay aloof from the mainstream of British life, often to disparage it, to change their way. By setting themselves apart in a manner that no previous wave of immigrants has done - and which most of their more sensible co-religionists also think is crass- they incite a backlash from the majority population as has already happened in France and Holland.

The only people who will welcome such a development are the bigots of the far right. Britain can benefit enormously from immigration, but stricter rules and asylum tests are Icon way to ensure that it admits newcomers who are willing to contribute to the general good and play a full part in society. The numbers seeking entry are a source of growing concern, which Mr Hain is right to underline. We cannot endlessly sustain a homogeneous society under pressure from regressive isolationists within and a rising influx of asylum seekers outside.

Britain has absorbed many cultural influences and has been enriched by them. The intolerance of Muslim extremists is the problem and the remedy is clear. They must accept our political culture, not our religion. That is the best way for them to succeed in Britain and the best way to live happily alongside us.

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