In the wake of the rise of the Tunisian and Egypt dissent against oppressive, totalitarian regimes, Prime Minister Cameron has come out fighting against one of our own oppressive totalitarian movement in the UK – the Islamists. He is right in his analysis that the only way to tackle the growing rise of Islamist inspired terrorism is to tackle the growing phenomenon that is at the root of the problem - Islamism which has to an extent been sponsored by the state.
As a British Muslim born in the UK, hailing from parents who originally emigrated here in the 1950s, I have seen the rise of Islamist extremism first hand and experienced the tactics and strategies that have been used to promote and grow the capacity for this divisive and dangerous ideology.
It is natural when immigrant societies first move to pastures new that they tend to congregate together. With regards to Muslims, this was usually filtered further by their country of origin and we were never classified as “Muslims” – rather by the country of our family’s origin and in my case, Pakistani. Our faith was an extension of our identity, not the primary identifier.
Due to the fact that the Asian population was lower than it is currently in the UK, the school that I attended only had 5% of its students that were from Asian immigrant families and we found that this presented us with no option but to integrate with students of a different faith – something that has helped me immensely to grow both as a British Citizen and a Muslim. There has never been a dichotomy for me in being both, just as there had not been for many of the Muslim immigrants at that time in being Pakistani/Muslim, Indian/Muslim, Bangladeshi/Muslim etc and for many of their offspring the word British has been substituted for the Asian country of origin.