Tim Dieppe comments on the censorship of a Home Office report into immigration, integration and Islam.
Dame Louise Casey was commissioned by the government to lead a review into opportunity and integration in some of our most isolated communities last year. The review was aimed, among other things, at preventing a repeat of the so-called Trojan horse school scandal in Birmingham, where a group of Muslim leaders were allegedly plotting to take over a group of schools. This week, the Sunday Times reported that The Home Office is trying to censor her report. The report is said to have been ready for months, and to be highly critical of the government’s “failure to manage the impact of mass immigration, integrate minorities, and tackle extremism.” The report is understood to criticise the government for allowing some areas to operate as if they are Muslim-only zones, where state schools close for Friday prayers. It is also said to warn that political correctness has gone too far and is pandering to the growth of far-right groups. It is believed to criticise the government for not promoting and defending the Prevent programme, and allowing it to be presented by Islamists as an attack on all Muslims.
Earlier this year, Casey said: “It is not racist to say that the pace and rate of immigration has created a lot of change in Britain and for some people that feels too much… Not talking about this and the issues that arise from it only creates more tensions, rather than resolving them.” She has also criticised councils for “over worrying” about causing offence among minority groups. Attitudes like this have resulted in officials turning a blind eye to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham by Pakistani background men, she said.
The review has also been reported as saying that British laws and traditions, such as the celebration of Christmas, are threatened and need to be vigorously defended in order to stop ethnic segregation dividing society. Casey has said: “One set of laws democratically decided and with the intention that they are upheld by every community in the land, new or old.” This is an implied criticism of sharia courts which are creating a quasi-parallel legal system. Casey said that all citizens should be made to adhere to the same set of laws which are “specifically intended to help define how we live together.”
Speaking at an event in central London earlier this year, Casey said: “I don’t want places that just celebrate Christmas or just celebrate Eid. We’ve got to celebrate all of it and that’s just one small example of where you have to take on [the] curriculum …you cannot have kids growing up in this country when they think for example that 50% of the population are Asian.”
While I agree with much of what Dame Casey says, it is a mistake to advocate celebrating “all of it”, since Christmas is very much an established part of British culture and history, whereas Eid is not. Furthermore, this clashes with her criticism of state schools closing on Fridays for Islamic prayers, and her encouraging a vigorous defence of Christmas.
Casey says: “I have become convinced that it is only the upholding of our core British laws, cultures, values and traditions that will offer us the route map through the different and complex challenge of creating a cohesive society.” I hope that the plural in “cultures” here was a mistake. Otherwise this clashes with her strong endorsement of one law for all and her implied criticism of multiculturalism.
As if to underline what Casey is saying, there were several stories this week that served to highlight the growing influence of Islam in the UK. Kings College London is reported to be considering banning the national anthem from graduation ceremonies after a complaint from a student. This would be a capitulation to multiculturalism. An ISIS flag was found stitched inside a baggage hander’s glove at a British airport, raising concerns that he was part of an ISIS sleeper cell. Social media posts threatened to kill all non-Muslims at a school in Doncaster. A former topless model who converted to Islam was arrested over terrorism links to Islamic State. An Olympic athlete faces being fined or banned for mocking Islam. This is effectively enforcement of a blasphemy law against Islam. One could hardly imagine him facing discipline for mocking Christianity. As if to underline the point, a London mosque was found to be handing out leaflets saying that those who insult Islam must be killed.
I do wholeheartedly agree with Casey when she says: “We need to be much bolder in not just celebrating our history, heritage and culture, but standing up for our democratically decided upon laws of the land and standing up to those that undermine them.” I would just add that our history, heritage and culture are hugely influenced by Christianity and that this ought also to be celebrated with boldness.
Casey is reported to be determined to publish her full findings, with or without government support. She is quoted as saying: “Don’t ask an old big beast to write something if you don’t want a big beast. Find yourself a puppet, find yourself a muppet if that’s what you want.” I hope that her full findings do indeed get published and provoke the kind of debate and response that we need.
Casey is right to diagnose that our culture and heritage are under threat and, although she may not name it explicitly, it is clear that she understands the growth of radical Islam to be the primary threat that we face. Former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips would agree. He said earlier this year that “the integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced.”
Casey’s remedies are largely right, though sometimes confused. We do need vigorously defend Christmas, but this can only really be done with a vigorous defence of Christianity itself. We also need to stand up for our Christian heritage and Christian values which have birthed the foundations of democracy and one rule of law for all amongst other things. Though she may not realise it, Casey’s report sounds like it makes a strong case for supporting the work of Christian Concern as we seek to speak of Jesus Christ at every level in society and recover Christian values in our culture.