Unlike where I grew up, which had a decent(ish) mixture of races and cultures, the place I currently live is quite segregated; and as such, a lot of the people here have quite a myopic view on the subject of middle-eastern immigration.
“They should go back where they came from.”
There’s a famous, but often mis-quoted, phrase, that states that being born an Englishman is like winning the greatest lottery in the world. We have freedoms here, and in all of the western world, that so many could scarcely imagine. In this instance, I’m not talking about the right to eat food and drink clean water that people in so many starving third world countries don’t have. I speak of the many areas of the middle-east, where families have to worry about their children being blown apart on the way to school, where they have to worry about their livelihood, be it a shop or a farm or a restaurant or whatever, being destroyed or looted by thugs and armed terrorists. The ideal that a country exists where they can go, and not have to worry about their loved ones being forcibly drafted into extremist militia, being blown apart by stray bombings or terrorist attacks, must be as near a vision of heaven on earth as they may find, and a lucky few may earn enough or fight hard enough to earn safe passage to England or America or anywhere else where such liberties are granted. Telling them to go ‘home‘ is effectively sentencing them to a life or hardship and danger, simply because they weren’t fortunate enough to be born where you were.
My second point, is on integration. I have to endure a lot of people talking about how the Muslim communities are unfriendly, and keep to themselves; and how they don’t like seeing people walking the streets in veils and niqabs and robes. Trying to ban these religiously significant garments, has been many people’s intentions for a long time. How little thought does it require to understand why this is such a deep conflict for them? You’re asking them to give up key aspects of their religion, potentially the most important thing in their lives for many Muslims, in order to better fit in with British people. You’re asking them to associate more with British people, whom they have no choice but to see as sinners and as being immoral. You’re asking them to denounce their beliefs, or ‘go home’. You’re asking them to give up their identities, or face a life of fear and struggle.
I’m not putting forward a solution to this problem. I don’t have one. I understand the downsides of having these communities in this country. I understand the problems that can be caused with having unidentifiable citizens walking around in full-face veils. I understand the economic drains of immigration. I’m merely stating a fact that I find obvious.
The Islamic religion is often more significant to it’s followers than anything I could imagine in my world. Second only perhaps, to the safety and lives of their children and loved ones. How dare these privileged, unpersecuted, well-fed people try to force them to choose between one or the other.
I’m an atheist and yet I can still understand the significance of their faith. Why is it that so many of the people around me seem unable to do so.