Commission on Integration and Cohesion calls for dialogue between the religious and non-religious

Darra SinghThe final report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion was published today setting out the steps that need to be taken to build strong, cohesive and integrated communities.

The independent Commission chaired by Darra Singh (pictured) was established by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly and tasked with considering what local and practical action is needed to overcome the barriers to integration and cohesion. Over the past year they have visited towns and cities across the country gathering evidence on how communities themselves are taking action in response to their own circumstances and particular cohesion challenges.

The Commission’s report, Our Shared Future puts forward a wide-ranging set of recommendations for practical action to address cohesion and integration issues at a local level, along with suggestions for a national framework to support these.

Some of the key areas covered by the report include how the government promotes and supports English language speaking, developing a new role for local authorities with strengthened support from national government and how it puts a renewed focus on citizenship. It recommends that unless there is a clear business and equalities case, single group funding should not be promoted. In exceptional cases where such funding is awarded the provider should demonstrate clearly how its policies will promote community integration and cohesion.

It also contains a number of messages about the importance of both faith communities and local government developing and deepening inter faith programmes. Encouragingly it also calls for “a more constructive conversation between those who are religious and those who are not”.

It also states that “there is a case to be made for a review of some aspects of the way Government, both central and local, supports, consults and engages with faith-based bodies. These might include: grant giving (and appropriate guidelines for this); issues linked to contracts for the delivery of public services; and forms of engagement with non-religious belief groups, such as Humanists. There are also wider debates to be held about the role of faith in society more generally.”

The British Humanist Association has welcomed parts of it, but warned that there are important omissions and some flaws in some of the recommendations made.

The report is covered in the Guardian (“Racial strife more likely in country villages than big towns, says report”) and the Telegraph (“Violence’ warning over immigration“)

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One response to “Commission on Integration and Cohesion calls for dialogue between the religious and non-religious

  1. Established 1981
    London School of Islamics
    An Educational Trust
    63 Margery Park Road London E7 9LD
    Email: info@londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
    Tel/Fax: 0208 555 2733 / 07817 112 667
    Community Cohesion
    According to Ruth Kelly, migrants must learn English language to integrate. Learning English language is about as useful as learning Arabic, Urdu and other community languages. The British Establishment and society has systematically failed to understand the causes of migration, global terrorism and social and emotional, economic segregation. Muslims suffer different forms of discrimination which reduce their employment opportunities and affect their educational achievements. This can give rise to hopelessness and could undermine Muslims’ sense of belongingness. Islamophobia is a growing reality of racism around the world. The only way to stop it is by respecting the religious diversity. Communities are more divided than ever. The Government presses ahead with flawed policies and anti-terrorist legislation that created further resentment, alienation and criminalization. A dramatic surge of racist and religiously—motivated violence followed the 7/7, London and Glasgow bombing.

    Muslim communities are angry at plans to “spy” on Muslim students at universities. The proposal is an act of racism. Universities are not the problem. Just because some of the 7/7 bombers were graduates, does not mean they formed their ideas in a university. It is the western society which is creating extreme Muslims all around the world. Young Muslims are becoming more separated from society than their parents who were not well versed in English while young Muslim generation is notoriously monolinguals. Schools do not encourage and teach Arabic, Urdu and other community languages. They are even discouraged to speak mother tongues at home. They only learn British History not their own history. The British society was and still reluctant to open up its sense of citizenship to all those that have come to live here. Integration is a two-way process. Many Muslims acknowledge that they need to do more to engage with wider society. At the same time British and European politicians must make stronger efforts to promote meaningful intercultural dialogue and tackle racism, discrimination and marginalization more effectively.

    The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.
    Iftikhar Ahmad

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