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Asian Voice: Multiculturalism = Harmony & Respect


A wide range of views have been expressed in the Asian Voice addings to the debate on multiculturalism and I’m happy to add my voice. The debate has found some strange beldfellows like the Prime Minister and Trevor Phillips portraying multicultrasim as some form of evil which in view and experience is at the best dangerous distortion of what multicultural values actually stand for. I firmly believe multicultural values and ethos have strengthened our nation by bringing closer different cultures and religions and made a valuable contribution by instilling harmony and respect. Britain has benifitteded from multicultarism and put it on the map as an example for other nations by championing the cause of diversity and cohesion. This I say as a proud British for the last 35 years.


I welcome the debate but find it wholly wrong and very disturbing when the Prmime Minister talking on multiculturalism links it with terrorism as though it has aided terrorism. Such comments and attitudes divide and offend the community rather than helping cohesive. No Mr Prime Minsister, the so called ‘state doctrine of multicultarism’ has not ‘encouraged different cultures to live sperate lives’. On the contrary multiculturaism has over the years nourished the diverse values and made a vital contribution in gradually establishing different communties. Trevor Phillip’s assertion that multicultural values somehow breeds ‘seperateness’ is complete nonsense becuase multicultrasim has meant integration of differrent ethnic and religious groups and developed our own brand of community that has seen us living in a spirit of harmony and respect for all. Often America, which has longer history of ‘immigrant’ community settling in the USA, is portrayed as a great example of integration. But when analysed closley all is not well on this front in America. One only needs to examine ‘ghettoes’ in America and the no go areas in places like New York and Washington to see how bad the issues of discrimination and divisions in the community  are. Lord Dolar Popat is way off the mark in his assessment when he describes multcultarism advocating division in the British Society. In my view it is the very multicultural approach which has provided a platform for assimilation and our brand of identity which I believe is very positive and unique.


Sadiq Khan MP has added an interesting dimension to this debate recently through the launch of a new campaign "One Society, Many Cultures” with leading politicians religious leaders, trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners pledging to stand up against division and hatred and defend the right to freedom of thought, religion and culture. Ken Livingstone, who’s been a genuine supporter of the great multicultural nation that we are, has made a passionate plea on this matter saying "The launch of One Society Many Cultures could not be more timely. Britain's history is riddled with examples of communities being vilified, from the Jewish refugees of the early 20th century being accused of bringing diseases here, to the "No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs" signs that were common place in the 1960s. We have made huge progress but there is always a backlash. All communities make a choice about the way they live their lives; that is why cities like London are socially, culturally and economically competitive on the world stage. This is a template for the future of humanity. The British identity is the biggest mixing bowl in human history. This is what makes it successful”.

Having lived in Brent and Harrow all my ‘UK life’ I say that we in these Boroughs have shining demonstration of multicultural communities cherishing our diversity and living together shoulder to shoulder, There are undeniable issues about terrorism and much work is needed to tackle this but let’s not knock multicultural values.

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22nd February 2011