British Muslims and multiculturalism On 29 January 2007, the think tank Policy Exchange published a report (Living apart together: British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism) [PDF]which finds that there is a growing religiosity amongst the younger generation of Muslims and that they feel they have less in common with non-Muslims than do their parents. They also exhibit a much stronger preference for Islamic schools and sharia law and place a greater stress on publicly asserting their identity.
The report concludes that the growth of Islamism must be understood in relation to political and social trends that have emerged in British society and suggests that the way the Government is responding to Islamism is making things worse, not better. By treating Muslims as a homogenous group, the Government fails to see the diversity of opinions amongst Muslims, so that they feel more ignored and excluded. The Government should stop emphasising difference and engage with Muslims as citizens, not through their religious identity.
The report also found that the authorities and some Muslim groups have exaggerated the problem of Islamophobia, which has fueled a sense of victimhood amongst some Muslims. However, 84% of Muslims believe they have been treated fairly in this society.
The authors call for an end to institutional attacks on national identity - the counterproductive cancellation of Christmas festivities, the neurotic bans on displays of national symbols, and the sometimes crude anti-Western bias of history lessons - which can create feelings of defensiveness and resentment.