When he was a child Salman Rushdie’s father read to him ‘the great wonder tales of the East’ – the stories of Scheherazade from the Thousand and One Nights; the animal fables of the ancient Indian Panchatantra; ‘the marvels that poured like a waterfall from the Kathasaritsagara’, the famous 11th-century Sanskrit collection of myths; the ‘tales of the mighty heroes collected in the Hamzanama’ that tell of the legendary exploits of Amir Hamza, uncle to the Prophet Mohammed; and the ancient […]
There has recently been built in Merton in south London a ‘mega mosque’ that has inevitably become the focus of much controversy. In his book The British Dream, David Goodhart, director of the centre-left think tank Demos, takes the mosque as symbolic of the unacceptable change that immigration has wrought upon the nation. The mosque, he writes, ‘replaced an Express Dairies bottling plant which provided a few hundred jobs for local people and lots of milk bottles — an icon […]
Categories: Race & Immigration • Tags: christopher caldwell, cultural diversity, david goodhart, fortress europe, identity politics, immigration, jews, lampedusa, paul collier, racism, robert putnam, working class
Last month, I reviewed David Goodhart’s book The British Dream which explores, in the words of its subtitle, the ‘successes and failures of post-war immigration’. Goodhart, I suggested, ‘touches on some of the critical issues that we face today’. But ‘his insistence on seeing contemporary problems primarily through the lens of immigration only obscures those issues and makes it more difficult to formulate adequate responses’. In his response to the review, Goodhart raised three main issues. First, he suggested that […]
How do we stop young Muslims becoming radicalized? That has been the question posed by many politicians, policy makers, analysts and journalists in the aftermath of the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week. Indeed, it has been the question posed ever since the 7/7 bombings first raised the issue of ‘homegrown’ terrorism. The idea of ‘radicalization’ as the process by which young Muslims get drawn into jihadist circles has become received wisdom within security forces and among politicians, […]
The Canadian government is in the process of setting up an Office of Religious Freedom. Religious freedom is about the right of people to hold certain beliefs, and to act upon them, so long as in so doing they do not harm others or discriminate against them in the public sphere. It is the right to be free from interference from other faiths and from the state. For a government to set up an official body to oversee religious freedom […]
My essay on ‘The Myths of Muslim Rage’ sparked a debate about the relationship between religion and politics. Many challenged the idea that the conflicts over The Satanic Verses two decades ago, and over the Innocence of Muslims now, find their roots as much in political conflict as in religious belief. ‘Regardless of who may have been “pulling the strings” and for what reasons’, as one critic put it in commenting on the essay, ‘the fact that those strings can […]
Categories: Atheism & Religion • Tags: alister mcgrath, atheism, charles taylor, darwin, fundamentalism, identity politics, islam, islamism, linda woodhead, marx, nietzsche, nilufer gole, olivier, paul heelas, religion, return of religion, secularism
How times change. There I was sitting in the Olympic stadium with my daughter. She had red, white and blue braids in her hair and was enthusiastically waving a Union Jack. When I was her age I would far rather have burned the flag than waved it. The Union Jack was then the property of jingoists and Empire loyalists, on the one hand, and of neo-fascists on the other. If I saw a pub or a housing estate with Union […]
This is a transcript of the first part of the talk I gave last week as part of the Criticise This! seminar in Ulcinj, Montenegro on ‘Rethinking the Question of Difference’. (The second part of the talk overlaps with the Milton K Wong lecture that I am giving in Vancouver next week; I will publish that in full.) The audience comprised mainly of artists, writers and critics, and the aim was to explore more deeply the philosophical and political underpinnings […]
Categories: Culture & Books, Multiculturalism • Tags: alain benoist, alain finkielkraut, black culture, charles taylor, cultural diversity, enlightenment, france, herder, identity politics, isaiah berlin, multiculturalism, native son, nouvelle droite, racism, richard wright, romanticism, tariq modood, walter benn michaels, will kymlicka, yugoslavia
Earlier this week I published an extract from my book From Fatwa to Jihad, that told the story of how the Asian Youth Movements were created in Britain in the 1970s. This second extract explains how the British state and religious conservatives joined forces to marginalise secular radicals in the name of multiculturalism. This is the story of how Bradford came to be painted green. The same story could be told about towns all over Britain. In the summer of […]
Categories: Britain, Multiculturalism • Tags: asian youth movement, black identity, bradford, britain, british asians, From Fatwa to Jihad, identity politics, kenan malik's books, multiculturalism, racism, secularism
BBC Radio 4 broadcast a documentary this week by Zaiba Malik on the history of the Asian Youth Movements. For many of us who grew up in 1970s and 1980s, the AYMs were a central feature of our lives. Radical and secular, the movements challenged both the vicious racism that defined Britain in that era and many traditional values too, helping to establish an alternative leadership in Asian communities that confronted the conservatives on issues such as the role of […]
Another video (or rather audio) that I had not realised was online. I had been invited to Nihal’s show on the BBC’s Asian Network for a two-minute spot to promote the Festival of South Asian Literature, at which I was speaking. I ended up staying an hour debating free speech, multiculturalism and the giving of offence.
For no reason other than that I had never realised this video was online, here is my conversation with Hanif Kureishi at last year’s Festival of Asian Literature in London, in an event entitled ‘Saying It Like It Is: Culture, Free Speech and Power.’ And here, too, is the essay I wrote, at the time of that conversation, about my debt, and that of my generation, to Kureishi’s writing.