“Let us look closely at recent developments in government policy toward Muslims. The British Muslim reaction to the July 7 attacks was exemplary, as Ken Livingstone pointed out, and this was a proof that they were well integrated into society. A policy of constructive engagement would have spared no effort to make the best of these tragic events.
“Instead, the British government has adopted an attitude of double denial, at home and abroad. Obsession with the ‘terrorist threat’ rapidly colonised debate and drove the government headlong into an approach restricted to the ‘fight against radicalisation and extremism’…. Further, this policy was accompanied by a demeaning – and frequently paternalistic – argument on the necessity of ‘integration’. Muslims, so it went, must accept those British values (liberty, tolerance, democracy, etc) that make up the essence of ‘Britishness’….
“The problem today is not one of ‘essential values’, but of the gap between these values and everyday social and political practice. Justice is applied variably depending on whether one is black, Asian or Muslim. Equal opportunity is often a myth. Young citizens from cultural and religious ‘minorities’ run up against the wall of institutionalised racism. Rather than insisting that Muslims yield to a ‘duty to integrate’, society must shoulder its ‘duty of consistency’….
“Tony Blair will make his last gesture toward the Muslims of Britain today at an international conference on Islam and Muslims in the World…. While I have been invited to participate in the conference, not a single representative of the leading British Muslim associations has been invited to speak, not a single sensitive subject has been touched upon. It is as though these associations and their leaders were part of the problem, and could not become an active part of the solution.”
Tariq Ramadan writes in the Guardian, 4 June 2007