|Ethnic Minorities In UK Feel
More British Than Whites
by SHAHED SADULLAH
With the Queen's Jubilee celebrations being followed so closely by the London Olympics, this is very much a flag waving year in Britain. Patriotic frenzy is pretty much at an all time high and houses, windows, shops and cars all over the country are seen bedecked with the Union Jack, the affectionate name given to the national flag. 'Jack' was the word used by sailors in the navy for the flag that British warships carried and following the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, British warships flew the Union Flag or, as it was known at sea, the Union Jack. In the early twentieth century the Admirality passed an order saying that the Union Flag would also be known as the Union Jack and that name carries to this day.
But while the flagwaving has been going in full swing, a study to find which people are the most patriotic conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research has come up with surprising – even astonishing - results. Contrary to all expectations, the study found that ethnic minorities living in the UK feel more British than their white counterparts, that children of migrants are more likely to identify with the concept of 'Britishness' than children of non-migrants, and – here is the bombshell – that Muslims more likely to consider themselves British than their white counterparts.
The study, named Understanding Society, looked at the socio-economic circumstances of people living in 40,000 UK households. Occupants were asked a series of questions, including how important on a scale of one to 10, being British was to them.
British citizens of Pakistani origin scored the highest with an average of 7.76 - despite common presumptions that they associate more strongly with their own national identity than to where they are living now. Bangladeshi and Indian groups came second and third respectively, while the white population scored the lowest with an average of 6.58.
The study also found that identification with Britishness is higher among the children and grandchildren of migrants. In fact, the study showed that an awareness of British identity increases from generation to generation, while within the majority white population many maintain strong non-British identities, such as Scots or Welsh.
That is where the catch lies. Keep in mind that the United Kingdom consists of the separate 'home countries' which include England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and that the full name of the country is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and further that Great Britain consists of England, Wales and Scotland. So most indigenous people consider themselves as English or Welsh or Scottish or Northern Irish; they feel that the term 'British' only serves to 'fudge' their identity. In sport also, there is a dichotomy in the names given to teams that are commonly seen as representing this country. In the Olympics the country is represented by 'Team GB' and it is Great Britain that takes part in the international tennis competition known as the Davis Cup. But in both cricket and football, it is England that takes the field. Scots, Welsh and Irish can play either for their own national teams of for England, for Scotland fields its own side in both cricket and football and Wales and Northern Ireland have their own football teams. So the issue of national identity is a bit confused and a result of this confusion you see various flags flying at various venues. The Union Jack is by no means the only symbol of patriotism on display. Many support the England flag, the cross of St George which is a red cross against a white background and in the recent Wimbledon tennis final, many supporters of Andy Murray, the first Britisher to reach the final in 74 years, flew the Scottish flag (a while diagonal cross against a blue background) because Murray is a Scot.
The value of the study, however, is restricted to light reading and most members of the mainstream British community have condemned it as a rather inane attempt to give the ethnic minorities some positive Brownie points. Indeed, any positive effect the study may have had on the image of British Muslims has been quickly washed away. The alleged terrorists about whom I had mentioned in my last dispatch have now been charged and, confirming one's worst fears, it seems there is a Pakistani connection. Richard Dart, the former BBC security guard who converted to Islam and four others have been charged with terrorism offences following investigations by the counter terrorism command.
Dart, 29, Imran Mahmood, 21, and Jahangir Alom, 26, of Stratford, are charged with preparing for acts of terrorism. Stratford, it may be mentioned, is the area of East London where the Olympics are going to be held.
The three are alleged to have travelled to Pakistan for terrorism training, to have travelled abroad to commit acts of terrorism, and to have advised and counselled the commission of terrorist acts by providing information about travel to Pakistan and terrorism training, and operational security while there.
A woman, Rukhsana Begum, 22, is charged with possession of a digital memory card containing a document likely to be of use to a terrorist, from July 5.
The fifth man, Khalid Baqa, 47, is charged with three counts of possession of terrorist material and one count of dissemination of terrorist material, all dating from July 5. According to the charges, Baqa is said to have had CDs containing a document entitled 39 Ways to Support and Participate in Jihad.
God forbid, if there should be an incident during the Games, and Muslims are found to be involved in it, the effects of it on the British Muslim community could be devastating and far reaching. Britain is very conscious of the fact that for the duration of these Games, the eyes of the world will be on it and that these Games will be seen as a test of Britain's ability to do things in a big way. Any failure will reflect on many different fronts, not the least of which is the economic front, for so much of economic success is about political stability. Any attempt to harm the Games, therefore, will be seen as nothing short of high treason, going far beyond the bounds of normal – even terrorist – crime.