Integration and Cohesion

We are all citizens in a strong and proud nation, but one that can be more integrated. Citizens must show a willingness to get involved, interact with others and not isolate themselves.

The term integration is often used in very different ways. To some it means people that have settled in this country should adapt and become ‘more British’ while having the freedom to preserve some of their inherited values and cultures; to others it means that one must leave one’s cultural baggage at the door and dissolve into a melting pot of Britishness. The reality is that integration, acculturation or any such process of adaptation is never a simple process of one way traffic.

Think of all the different people that have come to the UK over the last 60 years – people from the Caribbean, from Asia, Africa and more recently Eastern Europe – all have adapted themselves in some ways, but have also brought valuable things to these isles beyond the stereotypical corner shops and restaurants, exotic music and cinema, doctors surgeries, taxis and cheap plumbing!

Muslim scholars agree that those who settle here should be loyal citizens to this country, and need to fit in – obvious examples are to learn the language and culture and to interact with other people. In fact, this can also be seen in the way that Muslims have adapted their practice of Islam to other regions of the world historically, such as India, Central Asia and parts of Africa and China. But we also need to remember that integration will involve a two way process, of not whole communities being dissolved into a broader monolithic (and imagined) British culture, but becoming part of a changing British landscape, that is diverse in itself.