Muslim communities in Britain have faced too many “cheap calls to integrate” since last month’s London bomb attacks and should instead receive increased government funding to tackle widespread poverty and poor health, the TUC leader, Brendan Barber, said yesterday.
Publishing a report saying that people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are among the most deprived in the UK, Mr Barber warned that greater social inclusion was being jeopardised by high levels of poverty that risked potentially fuelling extremist beliefs.
“Social deprivation and poverty is no excuse for criminality, but it can be a breeding ground for poisonous beliefs of all kinds,” he said. “Even if there had been no bomb attacks, a civilised country should not tolerate such high levels of poverty and deprivation.
“We have had too many cheap calls for Muslims to integrate, some of which have come close to asking people to give up crucial parts of their identity. Building a tolerant liberal society where we are all free to express the different sides that make up anyone’s identity will be that much harder when some groups suffer from such extreme levels of deprivation and poverty.”
The TUC’s report, to be launched by Mr Barber today at the East London mosque, calls for government job creation and other programmes to be targeted at Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Out of every 100 white people, 20 live below the government poverty line, but 69 out of every 100 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Britain live in poverty, the study says.
See also “End UK Pakistani and Bangladeshi poverty and deprivation says TUC”, TUC press release, 19 August 2005