We can’t simply dismiss concerns about integration as racist

It’s time to rethink the way we use terms such as ethnicity, identity, culture and race

Whatever one makes of Brexit and the recent success of Mr Trump – including how similar or dissimilar they are – the two phenomena appear to indicate a growing sense of uncertainty among people who feel they may no longer have a place of value in society. Those who feel that somehow they have been ‘left behind’.

The rise of rightwing politics and discourse is also noticeable in the backdrop, including those on the far and extreme right. The Danish Freedom party (DFP), the Front National in France and the UK Independence party (Ukip) all seem to have a greater influence than was anticipated. Along with their sense of populism (plain-speaking, anti-elite, anti-establishment discourse) and nativism, a common feature seems to be a strong scepticism, if not dislike, of ‘Muslims’.

Far-right parties portray themselves as representing the ‘man on the street’ against the elite, who have ‘betrayed the nation’ by opening its borders. This is not just about a voter base that should be dismissed as racist, or, in reality, even rightwing (a significant element of the far-right success lies in attracting votes from the left and centre). They are often from working-class backgrounds, but bolstered by educated middle-class voters who now seem to be joining ranks, perhaps driven less by economic pressures and more by an instinct to preserve national identity or out of fear of losing some of the values they deem threatened….

(Read more at the Policy Network Blog)

Trust is central to integration

The report of the Casey Review will be seen by some Muslims as a bitter pill to swallow. But it is important to have an open and honest conversation about the issues it raises. We all need to step up and accept the challenge. The days of communities dealing with their own dirty linen in private are long gone. Having moral courage and leadership means facing up to truths, even when they may seem unpalatable. And now, more than ever before, Muslim activists and grassroots organisations need to take on these challenges.

But beyond this, integration has to be a conversation about everyone in our society, it has to heal divides and bring people together; it has to create a vision of what we aspire to, who we aspire to be and what binds a diverse nation of people together. Integration is not just about immigrants, or about minorities, not about ‘us and them’ but about everyone. And one of the key things we have missed from the conversation is the issue of trust, a vital ingredient to help us get along. This is not to say that everyone has to trust everyone else, but we can’t build a more integrated or cohesive society where there is a breakdown in trust…

(Read more at the Integration Hub)