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The Cafe
Transcript: The Dis-united Kingdom
The Cafe travels to Bradford to discuss race riots, poverty and polarised communities in the UK.
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2012 06:09

Please read the full transcript for The Cafe episode The Dis-united Kingdom below:

Mehdi Hasan:
Bradford was once the wealthiest city in Britain, riding the wave of the industrial revolution, its mills churning out textiles that dressed the world. But Great Britain is no longer the great empire that it once was and today, this northern city is defined not by industrial or political power, but by poverty, inequality and social decline.

Then there are the residents - white Christian Anglo-Saxons used to be the only racial and religious denomination around here but then the children of empire started migrating to the UK and British society became multiracial and multicultural. There were race riots in the city back in 2001. The so-called white working class is angry and alienated and the divide between communities seems to be growing. Thrown in the threat from home-grown terrorism and religious extremism and it's a volatile cocktail.

We'll be discussing multiculturalism, Islamophobia and what it really means to be British inside The Café.

Joining us in The Café today are Sayeeda Warsi, the UK's first Muslim cabinet minister and the co-chair of the ruling Conservative Party. She recently warned that Islamophobia has become socially acceptable in Britain; George Galloway took a stand against the war in Iraq and was expelled from the Labour Party. He went on to found the Respect Party, which in a dramatic by-election here in Bradford in March overturned a massive Labour majority; David Goodhart is the director of the influential British think-tank, Demos. He says mass immigration has led to racial segregation that's undermining the UK's welfare state; Ratna Lachman is the director of Just West Yorkshire and a tireless campaigner for human rights. She warns that politicians and pundits exaggerate the threat of segregation for their own partisan ends; Jason Smith is the Bradford District chairman of UKIP, the UK Independence Party, which argues that multiculturalism has divided British society and advocates a freeze on all immigration; and Arfan Naseer, or Naz, a former drug dealer, who now leads Consequence, an organisation that works with young people in Bradford to help them stay out of crime. In 2011, he won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Thank you for all joining me here in Bradford. Sayeeda, I want to kick off straightaway with you. What does mean to British? How do you define being British? You're of a British-Pakistani background. You're now in the cabinet in government. How would you define being British?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I think it depends on what kind of a day you're having, because it depends on what scenario you're in as to how you define yourself. When you're abroad, you define yourself as hugely British and English and you accentuate anything that you may remotely consider to be British. I think it also defines value. It defines citizenship. It defines obviously your place of birth. For me, now in government, it defines my government, who I represent, but I think it's not that easy in terms of being able to divide out different parts of your identity, and I think you very much bring out different parts of your identity, depending on where you are at any one time.

Mehdi Hasan:
George, you're of a Scottish-Irish background, Catholic background. You've represented parliamentary seats here in England. How do you define being British?

George Galloway:
In a way, I disagree with the premise. I have absolutely nothing in common with Sayeeda Warsi, although I admire her in many ways. We hold the same colour of passport, but that's really it. I'm just not big on states which are here today, gone tomorrow, in any case. I always say my country is the future. My flag is red and I am in tune with people who feel that way in every country in the world and not in tune with fellow citizens of the same country. In any case, a country is made up of all the people in it. What it means to be British is dependent on who the person that we're talking about is.

Mehdi Hasan:
Would that apply also… within the United Kingdom, you're Scottish.

George Galloway:
I prefer Bob Dylan to Scottish folk music and always have and if the meaning of an independent Scotland, which may well happen, is that we have to listen to Scottish folk music around the clock, that's another good reason for not having it.

Mehdi Hasan:
Sayeeda, do you think you've got nothing in common with George?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I think we've got a lot of common. I think, you know, in terms of… you know, of course politically, we come from different political perspectives, but for me, the Jubilee, the sense of the Olympics, the concept of national anthem, I think it creates a sense of belonging for me.

Mehdi Hasan:
Well, let me ask you about… you mentioned values in your first answer…

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yes.

Mehdi Hasan:
…the Prime Minister, David Cameron, leader of your Party, he gave a speech last year in Munich in Germany in which he said, “Minority communities need to sign up to British values.” Can you tell me what those values are within the society?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, look, the values of tolerances, the values of respect, the values about equality before the law, values about respecting the law of the land. And these are all values which I think whatever background you come from, whatever part of the nation you come from, whatever colour you are, whatever religious background you are, you can sign up to those values. And I think an interesting thing for me was…

Mehdi Hasan:
But aren't they values that apply to other nations as well? What makes them British?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I think there are things that are quirkily British. You know, I said to mum, when she first came to Britain, you know, kind of 40 odd years ago from a little village in the Punjab, when she first came here, what were the habits and the kind of ideas that she saw immediately which she thought were typically British? And she said, well, you know the way they kind of obsessed about their garden, the way they always clean their car on a Sunday, the way that they queued, even if they didn't need to queue they queued. You know, she kind of saw certain things and that concept of fair play.

Mehdi Hasan:
David, you've written a great deal about this subject. Is there a danger that when you try and define Britishness it either becomes a little bit expansive and woolly and could apply to the French and the Germans and the Indians and the Americans, or it becomes very narrow and restrictive and there's a danger of going between one of two extremes?

David Goodhart:
Yeah, I mean, we do have a… we've got a more complicated story about nation and national identity in this country than say in Ireland or Denmark or indeed even in France, and I think that's partly for imperial reasons. It's partly because we are four nations in one state and I would much prefer to talk about shared interests and shared experiences. I mean, I think that the whole reason why we worry about Britishness now is precisely because we have so much diversity in our values.

Arfan Naseer:
But with the young people that I work with, you ask them what patriotism is and what it feels like to be British and all of them are going to turn around and say, “What? I don't.” It's not taught. If the Prime Minister's saying that then I think it's time for the Prime Minister to do a session that needs to go into the school that are younger age to say, right, that is being British, so it's in your head. ‘Cause now if you ask everyone that I work with, they'll all come up with different things.

Mehdi Hasan:
George, do you think there's too much diversity that may be threatening things like the welfare state?

George Galloway:
I don't, but in any case, get over it, because it's not going to change. The country's not going to revert to a 1950s monochrome ham, egg and chips…

George Galloway:
…culture. We are the culture that we are and that's going to continue. Black people, brown people, Muslim people, Hindus, Sikhs, they're not going to disappear and their children are not going to lose their faith and they're certainly not going to lose their colour, so it's I think a bit of a false dichotomy, because we are what we are and the only thing that mattered in, the most important thing that mattered in what David had to say, was the word society. People who support the rightwing in British politics, who constantly raise this issue about diversity and the need for British values and all this, what they're really doing is, whether they know it or not, rejecting the presence of all these different kinds of people. And that's particularly hard to accept, especially if I may say so from Sayeeda, because the only reason these people are here in the first place is because we were there. We went there to their countries, killed their people and stole their things.

Mehdi Hasan:
The legacy of imperialism.

George Galloway:
It's a legacy of empire.

Sayeeda Warsi:
When the people talk about diversity and a concept of British values, it is not about saying to people who are not white these are British values and you've gotta sign up to them. It is about giving our country a sense of identity and a sense of belonging, which is so important, and it's as important to young Asian boys that maybe Naz is working as it is for young white boys, who actually are grasping as to what their identity is. And one of the things I've joked in the past is we need a British Council for Britain rather than a British Council for the rest of the world. We actually need somebody in this country saying to us, this is what our heritage is, this is how it's changed over the years, this is how being in other countries has changed us, this is how people from other countries have come here and changed us. But there has to be something that glues us all together.

Jason Smith:
Everyone says diversity is a good thing, culture's a good thing, but I think what we're talking about is having an umbrella Britishness which covers all communities, covers all cultures and I think that's what certainly we're trying to aim for. We see Britishness as principles of democracy, freedom and fair play and respect. That's what we sort of view Britishness… and I think that every… any culture or any people could subscribe to that quite easily, and I don't see a problem in that respect.

Mehdi Hasan:
George says that parties like yours, for example, are nostalgic for the past; they want to recreate a monochrome 1950s style. What so you want to say to that?

Jason Smith:
I think George is getting a little bit, you know, excited about it. It's OK being patriotic, as long as it doesn't go down the route of, you know…

Mehdi Hasan:
But are you looking at the past, is my question? When we talk about Britishness, are you actually thinking about society as…

Jason Smith:
No, because as I say, I mean…

Mehdi Hasan:
…an idealised, romantic…

Jason Smith:
…our sort of policy on Britishness is is not a blood thing, it's not about where you're born…

Mehdi Hasan:
What about race or skin colour?

Jason Smith:
Not at all, it's about subscribing to a belief system of democracy and freedom and respect for others, and I think, as I said, everyone could subscribe to that and should subscribe to that.

Sayeeda Warsi:
I just want to make the point that you do look to the past, because, look, you only know who you are and you only can define where you're going if you're actually aware of where you came from. You know, to somehow say we're gonna erase our history, good or bad, to erase what our heritage was, good or bad, or whether it falls into your view of life, is wrong. I mean, look, we have to absolutely accept, and I said recently, we have to first of all accept that this country does have a Christian heritage, we have to accept… but that doesn't mean that new faiths that have come into this country aren't just as welcome and aren't equal before the law. But to deny heritage in a way of trying to make everybody feel welcome makes nobody feel like they belong.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ratna, you came from abroad, you came here as an immigrant, do you think this country has a crisis of identity?

Ratna Lachman:
I don't think it has a crisis of identity. I absolutely think that, you know, to talk about this kind of British parochiality shocks me and it feels a little bit like you have absorbed the Tory spin, because for me the whole speech on multiculturalism, it was phrased in a very particular context, and let's remember what that context was. He talked about, you know, minority communities living segregated lives. He didn't talk about white communities, the 90 per cent who might never meet black people, but he chose to focus on minority communities leading black and segregated lives. In that same speech, he talked about Islamic radicalisation, he talked about a conveyor belt theory. Now, when you talk about those values coterminously with issues like segregated lives of minority communities, a radicalisation of Muslims, then the very underpinnings of how it's framed is racist.

Sayeeda Warsi:
It's a speech I was involved with and, you know, it's a speech which has been interpreted in various different ways. I think it's interesting when the prime minister spoke about multiculturalism in that speech, he talked about state multiculturalism, that was one of my involvements in the speech.

Mehdi Hasan:
What is state multiculturalism?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, look, there's a difference between…

Mehdi Hasan:
We're talking about… I don't know what it is, but tell our viewers, tell me what it is.

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, let me tell you the difference, 'cause people sometimes confuse… multiculturalism as I see it is, you know, all of us round this table, you know, some of us dressed in different ways, some of us coming from different origins, eating different things, sat here in Bradford, an old Yorkshire mill town in Chaat Café. To me, that's multiculturalism. Everybody as far as I know celebrates that. But there is such a thing as state multiculturalism, where policies of government, local and national, become so skewed that they actually start supporting a process of separation. I think we do now need to take a step back from that and say that certainly the role of the state, both nationally and locally, must be to allow spaces and opportunities for its communities to come together, rather than to fund them and support them in a way to keep them apart.

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask George, state multiculturalism is leading to separateness. You were once a member of the Labour Party which Sayeeda's saying is partly to blame for this. Does it lead to separateness, segregation?

George Galloway:
This is in a way, I say it with respect, the most pernicious of the lines coming out of the rightwing Government in Britain. State multiculturalism, there's no such thing. The Government, the Labour Government, and I was once as you say for almost 40 years a member of the Labour Party, simply accepted that Britain was the Britain of today. Take a look around you; that is Britain. There's no point in attempting…

Mehdi Hasan:
There was an issue with funding groups who then went and did things in a divisive way.

George Galloway:
No, but everyone pays taxes. The Sikh people pay taxes, why shouldn't there be a Sikh community centre? What's wrong with that?

Ratna Lachman:
Not very far from where we are, there's a place called Ilkley, for instance, you know, that is predominantly white. The lifestyle that they lead, the kind of, you know, village fetes, the village green, the Women's Institute, those are celebrated. But when you've got Muslim communities, you know, celebrating what's their culture, somehow we say you have to integrate and you have to be part…

Sayeeda Warsi:
That's not…

Ratna Lachman:
…of… no, not… of the so-called British way of life. And I do think that when we talk about, you know, kind of state multiculturalism, we have to acknowledge that in a multicultural society, it is a two-way street.

Mehdi Hasan:
Trevor Phillips, who is the head of Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission, famously remarked that Britain is sleepwalking into a segregated society. Was he right or wrong, David? Is that a view you share?

David Goodhart:
Certainly, parts of Britain have become more rather than less segregated.

Mehdi Hasan:
Are you thinking that Bradford is one of them…

David Goodhart:
Yes…

Mehdi Hasan:
…with your experience?

David Goodhart:
…absolutely. I mean, if you look at residence, you look at schooling, you probably look at, you know, relationships across ethnic boundaries, I would say somewhere like Bradford is probably gone backwards in the last ten or 15 years.

Mehdi Hasan:
Naz, you're a Bradford resident…

David Goodhart:
Well, let me just give you a stat.

David Goodhart:
Primary schools…just in the last six or seven years, the number of primary schools that are 80per cent plus Pakistani has gone up from 30 to over 50…

Arfan Naseer:
See…

David Goodhart:
…you know, which is partly a reflection of where people live.

Mehdi Hasan:
Naz, you're brought up in Bradford, you've been here since you were a baby boy.

Arfan Naseer:
Yep.

Mehdi Hasan:
Is it a more segregated city? Less segregated city?

Arfan Naseer:
See, the schools, ‘cause that's what I know about, ten years ago, it was completely different. When I was at school, it was different. I admit that and I agree with that.

Mehdi Hasan:
Different good or different bad?

Arfan Naseer:
It was good.

David Goodhart:
It was more mixed.

Arfan Naseer:
Yeah?

David Goodhart:
It was more mixed.

Arfan Naseer:
Now, yeah…

David Goodhart:
Yeah, yeah.

Arfan Naseer:
…now there's a problem. Young people from our area or different lots of areas, they're going to school to get the education. They're working with Muslim people, teachers are going to be either Muslim or not, but they don't get to see a white person's face until they get to an age when they go into employment…

Mehdi Hasan:
Well, let me ask then..

Arfan Naseer:
…and it's more harder then.

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask you, George, you were elected in a spectacular by-election victory in Bradford, Bradford West, earlier this year. When you look around the schools in your constituency, what do you see?

George Galloway:
My own son goes to a school that's one of those, 80per cent minority ethnic, 80per cent Muslim and it's one of the top 25 schools in the entire country, and it's a state school, so there is nothing intrinsically or inherently bad or wrong with the colour of the majority of the people in a school. Integration is another of these buzzwords. They want to somehow make a blend of us. I say our society is and should be a mosaic. A mosaic is made up of different pieces and it's the more beautiful for that. Forget blending the people that live in these islands, let's construct the most beautiful mosaic that we can. People are segregated, Mehdi, on the basis of money.

David Goodhart:
There are what one might call self-inflicted wounds too in some minority communities, which we shouldn't shy away from talking about. Language, because we have a huge amount of trans-continental marriage…

Arfan Naseer:
I'm talking about the young people that are going into a school…

David Goodhart:
Yeah, very, I mean…

Arfan Naseer:
…all of their language is absolutely…

David Goodhart:
…80 per cent... yeah…

Arfan Naseer:
…accurate.

David Goodhart:
…I think the figure is, the born in Bradford people say 70…

Arfan Naseer:
See, why is it again about Bradford born?

David Goodhart:
…well, ‘cause we're in Bradford. 75…

Arfan Naseer:
Yeah, but this is a national thing..

David Goodhart:
75 to 80 per cent of even third and fourth generation Kashmiri…

Arfan Naseer:
In Bradford.

David Goodhart:
…kids in Bradford have…

Arfan Naseer:
Right.

David Goodhart:
…at least one parent who came from Pakistan. Now, that means when they start…

Mehdi Hasan:
Let David finish the point.

David Goodhart:
…when they start school, they do not speak English. It's true about the minorities too. But they do not have English, they have a very kind of non-Western influence on them, so they start further back.

David Goodhart:
Now, to be fair…

Arfan Naseer:
I am really sorry, but I think you're in the 70s. I say you do…

David Goodhart:
I'm not.

Arfan Naseer:
…because if you go to school now…

David Goodhart:
I've got the data on this if you want to see.

Arfan Naseer:
Data….

David Goodhart:
I've got the data on it, yeah.

Arfan Naseer:
And you I feel are in the 70s, because if you go into school now, some of the parents now, or my mum speaks fine English, fine English. Me dad's born and bred here…

David Goodhart:
Well, that's great. Yeah, yeah.

Arfan Naseer:
…so that's changing.

George Galloway:
Every kid in school in Bradford speaks English. Everyone, not totally…

David Goodhart:
At the age three, they do not.

George Galloway:
…it's a totally insulting stereotype. They may speak it with an accent, but so does he.

Mehdi Hasan:
Let Ratna come in then Sayeeda.

Ratna Lachman:
I actually wanna turn it around and I want to say that we've got young people growing up in Bradford who speak Urdu and speak English and they will be far better world citizens in the future than those who purely speak one language.…

Mehdi Hasan:
Why do we hear so little about the positive stories and we hear so much about negative stories about Pakistani community, Bangladeshi community, Somali communities? Why do you think that is in our media and political discourse? Why do we only hear the negatives and not the positives?

Arfan Naseer:
‘Cause negative sells you see.

David Goodhart:
Well, it's probably…

Arfan Naseer:
Negative's more important.

David Goodhart:
…it's partly news value…

Arfan Naseer:
The positve's not important. They don't wanna see the positives.

David Goodhart:
Partly the dominance, if I may say so, of a kind of anti-racist discourse from 60s and 70s is slightly sort of diffident about the very good performance of some minorities, because it sort of doesn't fit the idea that Britain is till a horribly racist society that thwarts everybody who is not white. And that is simply not true. But it's still part of a very dominant part of this liberal discourse.

Mehdi Hasan:
Britain's not a horribly racist society and people who think that are in the 60s and 70s.

George Galloway:
No, if you think Britain's racist, you've never lived in France. There is racism everywhere. I don't think that Britain is a horribly racist society, but it has a lot of horrible racists in it and they are the ones predominantly who are beating this drum, because they want to make culture, rather than class, the dichotomy in the society, and it's a fake, false dichotomy. People live the way they live primarily because of their economic position in the society. Now, on one thing in this whole discussion I've agreed with Sayeeda.

Sayeeda Warsi:
I'm sure it's more than that, George. Don't deny it.

George Galloway:
Trust me, it's one, and that is the importance of the English language. The English language is our number one asset and we ought to be spending… we need a British Council to spend money on making…

Sayeeda Warsi:
Which stands for Britain.

George Galloway:
…it better in England so we can get on planes and go and sell abroad, so we can spread the good things about our society.

Mehdi Hasan:
The debate about multiculturalism, integration, is it really just a proxy for a debate about immigration? Your party, for example, campaigns against what you call mass immigration.

Jason Smith:
Yes, that's right.

Mehdi Hasan:
Is it really a debate about foreigners?

Jason Smith:
Not at all. I mean, our policy on immigration, very, very simply, it's a fair policy. We want to stop unlimited immigration because we think that it's causing the problems that we talked about today. It's causing… you know, schools are being overloaded; the health service is being overloaded, so it's a commonsense policy. But what we want to see is the best people come into the country with the best skills, like they do in Australia, in a point system, so where… no, no, but let me finish. But currently what we've got with the Labour Party, with the Conservative Party and with the LibDems, you've got a policy where anyone can come in from the EU in as many numbers as they want, and it's been as much half a million people a year, and our infrastructure just cannot sustain that. What we're saying is let's take the best people, whether it's from India, Pakistan, Australia, Europe, the best people come in, get a work permit and everybody, you know, everybody's happy.

Mehdi Hasan:
But is the debate about…..Naz.

Arfan Naseer:
Like you said, like the movie Ali G, have you seen it? Where they say that it's only fit people in, not fit people out. Is that the type of thing you're saying? If you've got tools, let me see the tools. No, they're no good, off you go. But you're good, come on in. Have you built a bridge? You come on in. Hey, you know.

Jason Smith:
No, what we are saying is you've got a country, a small country, you can only accept certain amount of people, so why not, if you want a doctor, why not take the best doctor? If you've got a GEORGE GALLOWAY and Sayeeda Warsi:, George Galloway's a better doctor, we'll take George Galloway.

Mehdi Hasan:
Here's a question. A lot of people watching this around the world we'll say, when we meet Brits abroad, they do very little to integrate into our societies. If you go to the coast of Spain, millions of British people living there, retired there, second home...

Sayeeda Warsi:
I know.

Mehdi Hasan:
…don't speak any Spanish, don't take on board any Spanish culture or Spanish food, have fish…

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yeah.

Mehdi Hasan:
… and chips, steak and chips, steak and chips etc, why is it…

Sayeeda Warsi:
or they accentuate…

Mehdi Hasan:
…why is it then that we're so… why is it we take such a kind of moral high ground in terms of you must integrate into our way of life, which is so ill-defined as we discussed earlier.

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, look, there is no way…

Mehdi Hasan:
Is there a double standard here?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Countries around the world have their own view as to how they're gonna integrate their communities. What I believe in, and I do fundamentally believe in this, that even, you know, as the daughter of an immigrant whose father came over here, as did lots of people from the Indian subcontinent to prop up the mills in the Yorkshire towns, you know, the rag mills here, the spinning and weaving mills, the steel mills in Sheffield, they came here because there was a need. They made Britain better, they made their lives better and in any one time in British society and in our history, we have to say, what do we need and what should we go out and promote? We mustn't say that, look, of course, anybody can be allowed to come here. We must take the brightest and the best. We must make sure that those people that come here are made to feel welcome and at a time actually when the economy is moving and world economy is moving East, we have to become more and more competitive to be able to bring in the brightest and the best, because in coming years, people will be saying, well, I'd rather go out and work in Malaysia, or I'd rather go out and work in Dubai than actually come and work in …

Jason Smith:
The reality, Sayeeda, as you well know, the reality is that you cannot control immigration, because we have got total open borders from the EU.

Mehdi Hasan:
We're gonna take a break there and come back in part two, when we're gonna be talking about terrorism and community cohesion, is there a link? Join us for the discussion in the second half.

The Café | End of Part 1

Mehdi Hasan:
Thank you very much for joining here in Bradford. We're back here in the café, we're talking about Britishness, identity, multiculturalism. I want to start off the second half of the discussion, Sayeeda, by asking you is it dangerous do you think when politicians mix up the already explosive issue of integration and loyalty with the equally and, dare I use the word, explosive issue of terrorism? Because the Prime Minister gave a speech last year, we talked about it in Part One in Munich where he was talking about terrorism and security, but at the same time he was talking about integration as if the two go hand in hand. Is there a link between the two?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I probably wouldn't have done it in that way and I think that you can be a completely integrated person, that doesn't stop you from being a terrorist of whatever religious background and whatever colour. And I think we've seen that in recent times where there have been people who've been engaged in terrorism who have been a completely integrated member of the societies in which they live.

Mehdi Hasan:
But here's what I'm confused by. He talks about terrorism, the conveyor belt to terrorism, radicalisation, bombings, etc., and he also talks about forced marriages, the importance of learning English, the dangers of state multiculturalism which we talked about in Part One. Was it wise to do that, to mix the two together? You seem to be saying it wasn't wise to do that?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, I worked on half the speech but I also did a speech of my own as you're very familiar with, and I talked specifically about the issues around stigmatisation of communities and I talked specifically about Islamophobia and how really in many ways religion had become the new ‘race' in Britain. I remember when I was growing up it was all about the colour of your skin. I think people are now much more defined, and certainly discrimination is defined on the basis of religion, and I didn't particularly impress all the right wing press when I said that Islamophobia had passed the dinner-table test. I think to be anti-Muslim and to be Islamophobic is much more acceptable than to be anti-black or anti-brown.

Mehdi Hasan:
We're gonna come to the subject of Islamophobia very soon. Before we get there, George, one of the top French scholars of terrorism said after the 7/7 bombings, the bombings on July 7th, 2005 in London, he said that those 7/7 bombers were, “The children of Britain's multicultural society.” Is that fair?

George Galloway:
I completely reject that. Actually, they were the children of the furious reaction amongst white sectors of the community but most pronounced amongst British Muslims at Britain's role in the world. If terrorism is defined at hurting innocent people for the crimes of guilty people, then our own state, our own country has been engaged in state terrorism across the world for the best part of 12 years, and that's what provoked, you saw from their own martyrdom videos, these extremists to explode themselves, destroy their own lives and their own families' lives and kill very large numbers of entirely innocent people and maim hundreds of innocent people. So these are the product not of multiculturalism, they're the product of Britain's imperial role in the world and its role as a primary actor in state terrorism across the world. When we killed a million people in Iraq, how radical did we think that was going to make some young Muslims in our own country feel? We argued at the time that making war on Muslims abroad inevitably would produce war against Muslims at home, and war from Muslims against the rest of us at home.

Mehdi Hasan:
So those people who say, whether they're in government or academia, whatever it is, who say if we had a more well adjusted – what's the phrase? – well integrated young British Muslim population who felt more at home in the United Kingdom, that wouldn't change the terrorist threat one iota?

George Galloway:
No. What they really mean is if the British Muslims had ceased to be Muslims or had become less Muslims, but as they have not, inevitably, watching their core religionists being massacred by our country was going to produce a reaction...

Sayeeda Warsi:
But I think where I would disagree with you is this. Look, there are many, many people, including people like me, British Muslims and non-Muslims, who took to the streets and marched against the war in Iraq because they fundamentally felt that our country was about to make the wrong decisions and make the wrong calls. But what I do not accept is that people who took that view who were deeply moved by the shock and all that we saw day after day on our screens overnight – which moved me to tears when I used to see and imagine that there were families there who were having to go through this, I do not believe that the solution to that is you strap yourself to a bomb and you blow yourself up because there are people like me...

George Galloway:
Well, I don't think anybody's saying that, are they?

Sayeeda Warsi:
But we can't make that connection. You cannot say that because you see these scenes or because you are moved by these things that the natural kind of fate from that...

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask you...

George Galloway:
That's what they say. I'm telling you what they said in their martyrdom videos, “We are doing this because of what you did to the people in Iraq.”

David Goodhart:
But this is very selective, this is very selective. And when we had the Iran-Iraq War, many more than a million Muslims were killed in that war and there were no mass protests of British Muslims, but it is that British Muslims much more sensitive, and indeed Muslims throughout the world are much more sensitive to white Europeans or people of European origin going into their countries and killing them. I mean there is a global politics here, why wasn't there outrage in the late 80s in the Iran-Iraq War?

George Galloway:
Because we weren't involved in the war.

David Goodhart:
Yeah...

Mehdi Hasan:
Technically, we were but there were separate issues.

David Goodhart:
But there were more than a million Muslims... If young Muslims in Britain are worried about Muslims being killed, why were there not mass protests over the Iran-Iraq War? Because they're not interested in Muslims being killed, they're interested in Muslims being killed by European countries.

Arfan Naseer:
Young people that I work with, when we were asked a question, they said the same thing, we could stand on those streets, shout all the way, cause a riot, they're not going to listen to us, our one voice isn't going to make a difference. And with the people that did what they did, they took that extra step for their own self that they thought right, I'm going to make a personal change, I'm going to do something that's going to shock the world, and unfortunately it did.

Jason Smith:
I think Naz has made an interesting point. I think the problem with this is we've got communities, all communities, that don't feel that represented by any of the politicians from any of the main parties because I think that multiculturalism is... it's not causing it but it's certainly not helping it. If you've got people in their own communities and they're feeling frustrated, it's going to affect other problems...

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask Sayeeda this, correct me if I'm wrong. You grew up not far away from Mohammad Sidique Khan, the ringleader of the 7/7 bombings, his family. Now you tell me if you grew up in an area like that near someone who lived a very similar life to you, a very similar upbringing, a very similar ethnic background, how do you end up in the Cabinet and he ends up a suicide bomber?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yeah, this is why I kind of take real issue with the whole kind of ideological debate. Because I grew up in Savile Town, it's got a huge mosque, you know, people raise concerns about the kind of Muslims who live there, what's going on in those mosques. Sidique Khan was married to a girl whose mum was our dinner lady when I was at school, you know, very much part of that community, and I felt that I wanted to make things better and I felt that the route I wanted to take to make things better was to get involved, to get involved in politics and to have my say through the democratic process. Why? Because that's the British way, that's what makes me British.

Mehdi Hasan:
Sidique Khan was a teaching assistant. Shehzad Tanweer, another one of the bombers, worked in his dad's fish and chips shop. These were the people who were not integrated into society?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yeah, but it's about having an open mind. I think what you find in many, many situations is that look, you can either have a strong, open identity – which I feel that I have, I am Muslim, I'm deeply proud of that, I have Pakistani origins, that's where my parents come from, I was born and raised in Yorkshire, I'm deeply proud of that, and I'm deeply proud of being British. But I feel that I can have a very open identity and I can accept other people's identities, even if they're not my identities, and I think that's the difference. Can we have an open, strong British identity or is that British identity going to be a closed, narrow one.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ratna?

Ratna Lachman:
There are 16 far right extremists who are in British prisons, we have got an entire movement of EDL, you know, who go in...

Mehdi Hasan:
English Defence League far right movement?

Ratna Lachman:
The English Defence League who are far right, who go into communities where there are black and minority ethnic people. Now, this is part of the continuum of British society and you can't, you won't ask a white person, I wouldn't say, “Well, George, there are 16 people in prison for far right offences, for bomb-making equipment and all the rest of it, why are you not like that or why are you not like that?” But somehow when it comes to Muslims, we are prepared to take that leap and blame the entire community.

Mehdi Hasan:
That's a fair point, isn't it, David?

David Goodhart:
No. I mean there is a global problem of Muslim societies not doing well, being subject to conflicts – both internal and external – and that has spilled over onto our streets...

Mehdi Hasan:
Which British Muslim communities in...

David Goodhart:
In the last couple of generations. And I do think there is a connection with the multiculturalism story, I mean I think our failure to offer pathways to citizenship, if you like, to young minority, and in particular Muslim boys and girls, young people, has meant that they've been somewhat apart, they've been adrift, and it has been partly reinforced by multiculturalism's tendency to put your minority identity before your national identity. Well, let me finish. And if you look at the data, there's an extraordinary degree of sort of aggressive religiosity amongst younger Muslims. It is not reflected amongst the first generation or second generation...

Ratna Lachman:
That is so unfair.

David Goodhart:
It's not unfair, it is very well attested...

Arfan Naseer:
I don't even know where you're getting your notes ...

Mehdi Hasan:
Naz, you're a young British Muslim, do you have regressive religious views?

David Goodhart:
Well, I mean that's a silly question really...

Arfan Naseer:
No, no, why is it, no, cos he's actually right You're talking about the whole phenomenon of Muslim, listen, at the end of the day, with young people like he was saying there, there were two from the same area, and it's down to each individual. Life's full of choices and every choice has a consequence...

David Goodhart:
The in-between generation. Second and third generation minority and in particular Muslim kids who feel sort of lost between their parents' culture, often rather traditional, folkish version of Islam, and a British society which they feel rightly or wrongly doesn't accept them, and they become I think particularly susceptible – I mean obviously very, very few of them become terrorists...

Arfan Naseer:
Can I ask a question...

David Goodhart:
...but they become susceptible...

Mehdi Hasan:
...young people... it's a very...

David Goodhart:
...to paranoid political, you know, the extraordinary number of people who think it was the Jews that did 9/11.

Mehdi Hasan:
I'll bring in George in one second, I just want to ask David one question because you didn't like me reducing it to Naz, let me just put statistics to you. Gallup did some polling of British Muslims in 2009. They found that young and old British Muslims were more likely to identify with the Briton than with their non- Muslim counterparts, more likely to want to live in mixed areas.

David Goodhart:
Yeah, yeah.

Mehdi Hasan:
How would you explain those polls then?

David Goodhart:
I think that it's completely consistent also with the idea that British Muslims, more than almost any other Muslims in the world identify first as Muslim and only second as British...

Various Panel Members
No, no...

David Goodhart:
French Muslims only 40 percent, it's 82 percent of British... I mean these are perfectly consistently together...

George Galloway:
And there's nothing wrong with them. What David's effectively saying is that British Muslims, many of them, he called it ‘aggressive religiosity',

Mehdi Hasan:
Regressive I think was his phrase.

George Galloway:
Aggressive?

David Goodhart:
Aggressive.

Mehdi Hasan:
Aggressive, I apologise.

George Galloway:
Aggressive religiosity.

David Goodhart:
35 per cent of young Muslims want apostates killed, whereas only 7 percent of the over-50s do, I mean that's what I meant...

George Galloway:
I never met a young British Muslim who wants apostates killed, so I missed that 35 percent, that's a pretty big elephant that I didn't...

Mehdi Hasan:
Well, you didn't know a 3-year-old who could speak good English in Bradford...

George Galloway:
...that I didn't see. What he's really saying is that British Muslims are too Muslim for his liking. The reality is British Muslims have first of all every right to be as Muslim as they like, it's none of your business their religious feelings. He complains that they put their religion before the state that they live in. I've got news for you, so do I, and have always. If you asked me to choose

David Goodhart:
I don't ask people that...

George Galloway:
If you asked me to choose, or my mother or my grandmother to choose between their religion and the state that they live in, trust me, they'll choose their religion every day because religion is forever and in the next life, not just here.

Mehdi Hasan:
You said you only agreed with Sayeeda on one point earlier. Sayeeda mentioned a speech, that I just want to in our remaining moments talk about, that she gave last year I think it was about how Islamophobia had passed the dinner-table test. I'm assuming, correct me I'm wrong, that's a view you would share?

George Galloway:
It's the second thing on which I agree with her. The responsibility is people like David who are liberal, Guardian-types who talk about Muslims in a way they would never dream about talking about black people or about Jews or anybody else. The very phrase ‘aggressive religiosity', would he describe a Jew as...

Mehdi Hasan:
I've got to let David come back...

George Galloway:
...aggressively religious Jew?

David Goodhart:
Yeah, if they are, of course I would.

Mehdi Hasan:
George, you've made quite a big allegation, let David come back in there.

George Galloway:
The main responsibility lies with liberals like him.

David Goodhart:
Of course I can, I mean you just look at the data of what young Muslims think. I mean not all of them by any means, it's a minority but it's a very large minority with worryingly...

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on there, hold on... I'm going to come to Sayeeda next.

David Goodhart:
...paranoid views about the world...

George Galloway:
You're not paranoid, you are...

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on, before I come to Sayeeda, the dinner-table test, Islamophobia, has it passed the dinner-table test in modern Britain? Is it now the subject of polite conversation?

Sayeeda Warsi:
And quite rightly, yes.

David Goodhart:
Well...

Mehdi Hasan:
Has it passed the camping-table test?

David Goodhart:
I mean I think there is legitimate anxiety about certain behaviours and practices, sometimes minority, sometimes majority, amongst the Muslim population of Britain. Of course it's not surprising that Muslims have the worst image. But it is partly an expression of...

Arfan Naseer:
And whose fault is that?

David Goodhart:
Well, it's the Muslim...

Arfan Naseer:
Media, the media, it's the media, it's the MEDIA!

David Goodhart:
...there are Muslim communities where you...

Mehdi Hasan:
Let's come back to the author of...

David Goodhart:
They didn't invent the Rushdie affair.

Arfan Naseer:
You've heard them yourself... you said they deserve it so, you know...

Mehdi Hasan:
No, no, no. Ratna, I'll come to you in a second. I want to sum up where we are. David says it exists, it's mainly the fault of Muslims in issues like the Salman...

David Goodhart:
Not the entire community...

Mehdi Hasan:
Not the entire community but some Muslims, you're saying it's the fault of the media. You wrote the speech, Sayeeda, Islamophobia you believe as a British Cabinet Minister has passed the dinner-table test, is now the subject of polite conversation, is on the rise. Who's to blame for it?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I think there are a whole series of factors which feed into that, I think the media is partly to blame because I think the media create a culture and an environment within which other opinions can feed. Let me give you a typical example. The English Defence League only two weeks ago said, I mean they despise me, predominantly because of my faith, who said that they would like to put lead in my head, effectively put a bullet through my head. Now, you know, there is a climate and a culture that is created which allows that kind of view to be put out there and make it acceptable, and I think that everybody has a responsibility, there is...

David Goodhart:
Well, that is not any view....

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yeah, but I would also say that there are also views that are held within the Muslim community which I say are nutty views but they're seen as serious views, and so you could get a nutter from the East End of London who nobody in the Muslim community would ever agree with, but he becomes a mouthpiece and suddenly everybody thinks that's the Muslim view. So just like we have nutcases within the British Muslim community, we have nutcases in every other community, and that's the way we should see them. But the one thing I would come back to you, David, on this, there is no connection between religiosity and terrorism, there is no connection between religiosity and extremism, because you can be a deeply religious person...

David Goodhart:
Oh, yeah, of course...

Sayeeda Warsi:
And in fact I dealt with this in my speech because what I said was that if you actually follow your faith truly and genuinely, then the faith of Islam fundamentally says it is a peaceful, moderate, middle way religion and therefore there is no scope to kill innocent people in the name of your faith in extremism and terrorism, and I got a lot of flak for that from extreme groups.

David Goodhart:
I agree, but I think much more important is this kind of in-between generation. Mohammad Sidique Khan himself is a really interesting example of that because he was alienated from his own parents because he chose to marry for love.

Mehdi Hasan:
But isn't that a good thing?

David Goodhart:
Yes, absolutely, he was caught...

Mehdi Hasan:
But then he ends up...

David Goodhart:
Precisely. He was caught between Western liberalism, as a lot of younger Muslims are, and the much more collectivist way of doing things, as it were. You know, you do not decide as a young Muslim who you're going to marry and sleep with necessarily, it's a family decision or a collective decision...

Arfan Naseer:
That's wrong, that's absolute...

David Goodhart:
It's true of religion...

Mehdi Hasan:
Let Ratna come in. Naz, let Ratna come in...

Arfan Naseer:
You were in the 70s and you're still thinking that way, I think you need to spend a day with me.

Ratna Lachman:
I think Islamophobia is on the rise, and I am a liberal Guardian reader, and I think, Sayeeda, what has been very kind of instrumental to me is your party's response to you when you made that statement. They exposed their true colours in the way that they came after you in terms of making that statement. And I would maintain that what's happening in society externally in the way in which Islam and Muslims are treated is also happening within your own party in terms of the way that you are treated. I think you've been treated profoundly unfairly by your own party and I do believe that it has something to do with the person that you are, Asian and Muslim, it's a constituency that doesn't sit well...

Mehdi Hasan:
Let Sayeeda come back in on that, it's a very interesting point to raise there. You are someone who has broken through all sorts of glass ceilings, a lot of people say you're an evidence of why there's no Islamophobia in Britain. How can it be an Islamophobic country if there's a Muslim cabinet minister? And yet others, as Ratna pointed out, say your treatment shows that Islamophobia is alive and well in Westminster in the political establishment. What's your own take?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Well, I think the fact that I became the first Muslim to become a cabinet minister and actually was at my first cabinet meeting on a really warm sunny day in a salwar kameez says a lot about the confidence of where Britain is today, and let's not take that away from the discussion that we've been having today.

Mehdi Hasan:
Yeah, a very good point.

Sayeeda Warsi:
And, you know, if I had a choice to live anywhere in the world, this is where I'd make my home because of the fact that it's a place where I feel that I can express my faith...

Mehdi Hasan:
I have a feeling there's a but coming.

Sayeeda Warsi:
But, and of course there's a but in all of this, the fact that having been there, I made this speech, and I'm still there, means that of course there are challenges...

George Galloway:
For now. For now.

Sayeeda Warsi:
Do you know something that I don't?!

Sayeeda Warsi:
But of course there are challenges, but what I would say to young people is that if you fundamentally believe in something and you want to make a change, it's not going to be an easy path – I've never said that my time in politics is easy and I'm sure that whatever time I've got left in politics isn't going to be easy – but at least I feel I'm doing something about it.

Ratna Lachman:
But you are fighting for your political life.

Mehdi Hasan:
That's a very good politician's answer, Sayeeda. In the political establishment that you now inhabit in the world of Westminster, do you sense that there is a hostility towards Muslims or Islam, or this idea that Muslims aren't integrating enough, to pick up what David was talking about earlier?

Sayeeda Warsi:
Look, of course there have been, not just in my political career but wider at well...

Mehdi Hasan:
I'm specifically interested in the political, the world that you inhabit. What do you experience? It's an important question.

Sayeeda Warsi:
Yeah, I think what I would say is what's more important to me is: Am I in a place where I feel that I can make a difference? Yes, I am. Do I feel that there are challenges when I try and make that difference? Yes, there are. Does that mean that I shouldn't be there? No, it doesn't. I think the whole point is that if you want to make a difference whatever that difference is, whether it's on tax policy, a health policy, education policy or policy on integration and communities, of course you're going to face challenges. People come at it from difference views. You know, we're in a coalition government, we've got all sorts of views that come around that table, but what I would say is that what we mustn't do and what would be wrong to do is to turn this inwards and say I'm a huge victim, I mustn't be there, everybody's being nasty to me...

Mehdi Hasan:
We're going to have to wrap this discussion up. I want to end by asking you all, and I'll begin with you, Sayeeda, we'll go around the table, of predictions. We've talked a lot about the past, 70s and 80s has been invoked. Where do you see Britain in 10 or 15 years' time, what does British society look like? Does it look, we had the word ‘segregation', is it more segregated and separate or is it more integrated and more culturally and racially harmonious?

Sayeeda Warsi:
I think where we end up will very much be determined by what happens over the next five years. I think we're at a very interesting crossroads as to whether we emerge from this a confident, more integrated nation or whether we emerge from it much more fragmented and separated. And I think all of us around this table in our own unique ways have a really important role to play in where we go.

Mehdi Hasan:
David?

David Goodhart:
As other identities have disintegrated, you know, this great working class and institutions have gone, religion has gone, particularly for the great masses of population some sense of common feeling is essential to sustain a welfare state, and I fear we're going to lose that. We're going to look more and more like America in 20 or 30 years' time.

Mehdi Hasan:
David is fearful, Ratna, are you?

Ratna Lachman:
I see in this discussion that we have that through time we've made anti-racism a dirty word, multiculturalism a dirty word, diversity a dirty word, and equality a dirty word, and our entire political discourse is framed on the basis of us and them, and that is going to be the legacy that I see in the future.

Mehdi Hasan:
Jason?

Jason Smith:
Yeah, I think if we continue on as we are with unlimited immigration and with segregation with such things as keep promoting things such as faith schools and cutting off communities, I think it's only going to become a more segregated society, so I think unless we change policy at a government level, I think we're going to keep on the same road, and I believe the nationalism thing that's happening in the country will continue to grow because I think that pockets of people from all communities will feel isolated and I think we'll have more problems. Let's hope we don't but this is what I fear could happen.

Mehdi Hasan:
Naz, lots of pessimism around the table, you work with young people, are we going to get any optimism from you?

Arfan Naseer:
I think the young people, from what I see, the funding scope first of all, right, so there's no funding out there. Second of all, the schools that I work with, I see the problem now, and teachers see it but it's a taboo thing, they don't want to say nothing. You give it five years' time and then you'll see what the problem is because in an area like Bradford, yeah, the schools are, when you walk in and you're seeing what's going on and kind of mentality the young people are...

Mehdi Hasan:
So more hopelessness is what you're saying?

Arfan Naseer:
They're not arsed anymore, there's nothing for them, the university's gone out of the picture because it's costing too much, right? Jobs are not being given, we've got people on case studies in Bradford who have gone up and got wonderful degrees and now working at Seabrook Factory cos they can't get a job because, oh, 'you're too qualified' or 'your name doesn't fit, the colour of your skin doesn't fit', so a lot of young people are on the negative part of that. But on a whole, for Bradford, it's a positive. Ten years ago we were labelled, but not anymore. We've proven it, we've come forward and we're pushing, people like myself and other organisations are helping to push that...

Mehdi Hasan:
There's a note of optimism so I'm going to leave you on an optimistic note. George, a more harmonious, I know you don't like the word ‘integrated' society or a more divided, fearful, separate society?

George Galloway:
Well, if we go on invading other people's countries and making war against other people and if we go on following this ruinous neo-liberal voodoo economics of the Tory Party and the right in British politics, then things in Britain will be worse. If we can rally people behind social democratic values, values of collectivism, of all the people, whatever colour and whatever faith, then we'll be a better country. That's what I'm vitally involved in on a day to day basis, and it'll depend who wins that battle of ideas.

Mehdi Hasan:
Well, that's all we have time for. Thank you very much to you all for joining me here in The Café in Bradford. You can contribute to the debate online, it will continue, and you can join me here in The Café next week. (Follow us on twitter @aljazeeracafe - @mehdihasan)

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