Wednesday 19 June 2024

Does Humza Yousaf share British values?


Freedom of religion is an important value. It ought to be possible for people of all religions to worship as they please without encountering any sort of prejudice. It is wrong to discriminate against Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs. Religious forms of dress should be permitted so long as they do no harm to anyone else. It does me no harm if someone else wears a turban, a kippah, a headscarf or a cross.

I dislike the word Islamophobia. I ought to be allowed to dislike Islam as a religion just as I ought to be allowed to dislike Christianity or any other religion. I ought to be allowed to disagree with Islamic texts and rules. For instance, while it is a rule for most Muslims that it is wrong to display a picture of the prophet, it ought not to be a rule for me because I am not a Muslim. A devout Muslim may dislike seeing a picture of the prophet, but he cannot expect non-Muslims to follow Muslim rules anymore than we can expect or force a Muslim to drink communion wine every Sunday.

Freedom of religion requires us all to be able to believe what we want, but also to disbelieve what we want. It ought not to be considered discriminatory against Muslims if someone mocks Islam, disagrees with Islamic opinion on any issue or expresses opinions that Muslims dislike about foreign policy or the behaviour of some Muslims in British society.

It is however discriminatory to be unkind to Muslims we might encounter or to treat them in anyway worse than anyone else. Our fellow citizens deserve our kindness.

Humza Yousaf in a recent article has complained about the rise of Islamophobia both in Britain and Europe. Oddly Rishi Sunak has never complained about the rise of Hinduismphobia. Neither has he written “it is increasingly difficult to persuade fellow Hindus that Europe does not have a problem with our very existence.”

Why is the presence of Hindus not a political issue either in Britain or in Europe, while the presence of Muslims is?

There are I think two issues here. Mass migration would be a political issue no matter where the people were coming from.

Cymru used to be the word not only for Wales, but for much of Northen England too. It was contrasted with Lloegr the realm of the Anglo-Saxons. It is reasonable to assume that Cymru or something similar was originally the word for the whole of Britain. The Celtic speakers of Britain no doubt resented the migration first of Romans and then of Anglo-Saxons. They longed in their poetry for a Britain free from the speakers of Old English. From the point of view of the Celts they were right to be concerned about the mass migration of Anglo-Saxons. Fifteen hundred years later Cymru has been pushed into just Wales and the original language of the British is a minority language in Wales. Migration caused this.

But in every other respect the Ancient Britons and the Celts were similar. They were both European and in time they both followed Christianity. What if instead the migrants had been the Moorish people who conquered Spain and might if history had turned out differently have conquered the rest of Europe too. In that case modern Britain would be very different indeed.

So, the issue facing Europe is not merely mass migration, it is who is migrating. If a few million Poles had moved to France there would be little if any controversy because in time the Poles would have learned French and would have become indistinguishable from other French people.

The reason people are not concerned about Hindus in Europe is firstly that they are relatively few in number and secondly there are no instances of Hindus committing acts of terrorism, nor instances of Hindus making a teacher go into hiding for showing a picture of Krishna, nor instances of Hindus making threats if someone disagrees with or mocks the Bhagavad Gita. I can make a satirical film about the life of Krishna and there will be no demonstrations, but if I did the same about the prophet my life would be in danger.

If something is dangerous it is not a phobia to be scared of it. It is common sense.

It’s all very well for Humza Yousaf to complain about Islamophobia, but this is to assume that the problem is all on the side of the non-Muslims. But British people have been remarkably tolerant and even positive about Islam and Muslims. Sadiq Khan is mayor of London. Humza Yousaf was First Minister of Scotland. Anas Sarwar is Scottish Labour leader and may be First Minister soon. Being Muslim is not a bar to high office and Muslims can be found in every important job.

It’s an odd sort of Islamophobia that keeps electing Muslims.

Yousaf complains that Nigel Farage said that “that Muslims do not share British values”. But Yousaf himself denies that he is British although he has a British passport. Yousaf like nearly every other Scottish nationalist is Scottish not British. So presumably Yousaf agrees with Nigel Farage that he does not share British values, because he denies that he is British at all. Yousaf is allowed to say about himself that he is not British, but if anyone else dared to say it he would doubtless be prosecuted for a hate crime.

The reason mass migration in general and mass migration of people from Islamic countries is an electoral issue is firstly that people in many European countries including Britain do not want their countries to be changed as drastically as was the case when the Celts were pushed to the margins of Britain.

Here the issue is neither to do with race nor any other phobia. We might love the Dutch and be similar to them, but we would not want ten or twenty million Dutch to come to Britain. If that many did come our language, culture and way of life would be changed for ever.

But the migrants who are coming to Britain and Europe are mainly from the third world and mainly follow Islam. They frequently fail to integrate but instead live in their own communities and hold religious and cultural beliefs with which we disagree.

Some members of the Islamic community believe in forms of Islamic fundamentalism, follow political forms of Islam, take part in acts of terrorism or threaten other people for exercising their right of free speech. Large number of Muslims also take part in demonstrations calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and sympathising with the goals of terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Whenever there is a conflict involving the UK and a Muslim country, British Muslims and Scottish Muslims too if they are not British tend to side with our opponent. Under these circumstances it is remarkable how little Islamophobia exists in Britain.

Prior to the Second World War there was no racism in Britain, because there were only around 7000 people from ethnic minorities. The amounted to 0.01% of the population. There was no one to be racist about as most people never met someone from an ethnic minority.

In the space of one lifetime, we have arrived at almost 20% of the population having origins from somewhere else. Far more people have migrated to Britain since the Second World War than in any similar timespan including when the Anglo-Saxons conquered Cymru from the Celts and during the Norman Conquest.  

I am not against migration, and I am not against Muslims, but we can have too much of a good thing. Let us attempt to limit migration to no more than 100,000 per year. Let us pick talented people from all countries who can help our economy and health service, but we must set limits otherwise in the coming decades 20% will become 40% and then 60%.

If Humza Yousaf cannot bear to live in the same United Kingdom to which his parents migrated but would rather split it up, how are we to find the unity and commonality that every country needs when its people will be so diverse as to have little in common. If the sons and daughters of migrants in Glasgow and Bradford lack a common identity and a shared future together then Farage is making a reasonable point.

British values I believe are not specific to Britain though many originated here. We have shared values across the free world. Many Muslims both here and elsewhere share them too. But a country also needs a shared identity and Humza Yousaf does not have a shared identity with Rishi Sunak. He thinks Rishi Sunak is a foreigner and there should be an international boundary between where they both live.

How can a country survive if this is the result of migration. How can a country survive when people like Humza Yousaf spend their whole lives complaining about their fellow citizens having phobias and does not think they are his fellow countrymen but wants instead to turn them into foreigners.

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