Ex-Muslim wants multiculturalism and â€˜poisonous’ faith schools ditched
DR Rumy Hasan is a quietly-spoken academic with a winsome smile who is quite unlikely to win many friends among mainly left-leaning British liberals who have, over the last 30 years or so, insisted on accusing critics of hard-line Islamic ideology as “Islamophobic” and – by extension – “racist”.
Hasan, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex who cut his teeth on left-wing politics, has long pooh-poohed the notion of “Islamophobia“, andÂ in a book just published – Multiculturalism:Â Some Inconvenient Truths – he goes to great lengths to explain in forthright, no-nonsense terms just how effectively radical Islamists, playing the victim card, have used the term “Islamophobia” to further their influence, create intolerant male-dominated enclaves, and stifle any critical examination of their isolationist agendas.
Last night I got to meet the Muslim-turned-atheist, who has a horror of the ritual slaughter of animals, Â when he launched Multiculturalism at Waterstones in Brighton, where he gave a riveting overview of the contents of his book.
To the annoyance of at least one member of his audience, Hasan asserted that one positive step towards weakening the influence of the radicals – and those who seek to shield them from any form of criticism – would be to abolish “poisonous” faith schools. This, he said, would help enormously in integrating children from immigrant communities – particularly those from Muslim backgrounds – into mainstream British society.
The man who opposed the idea felt that Protestant and Catholic faith schools, which had been with us “for centuries”, had played an important role in shaping Britain’s Christian cultural identity, and should not be prevented from continuing their good work.
Hasan dismissed this argument by pointing to the divisiveness of Protestant and Catholic sectarian schools in Northern Ireland.
In his book Hasan asserts that many of the beliefs and practices of religious-ethnic minorities are oppressive – especially concerning women and children – and that they are profoundly damaging the lives of many of those now trapped within “mono-religious, mono-cultural” segregated communities. Multiculturalism proposes a society which does away with the leading of “parallel lives” and segregation, and rejects oppressive and divisive cultural and religious practices.
In reviewing the book, Roddy Matthews, writing in the Tribune, said:
Hasan is not concerned with protecting the culture of the host country from invaders; he is concerned with protecting immigrant arrivals from being trapped in an oppressive aspic of male domination, low skills and poverty. Hasan believes that current policy does this because it is based on a liberal notion – admirable in its original intent – that the once despised, traditional cultures of former colonies are worthy of respect.
Essentially, Hasan is saying not that multiculturalism is bad for Britain, as the Right say, but that it is bad for the people it is intended to help – incoming cultural minorities. Immigrant populations have remained unchallenged in their traditional ways, and the fate of women and children, “marooned from the shore of mainstream society”, has been to fall into isolation and economic deprivation, because traditional community leaders, invariably male, have continued to dominate self-defined immigrant groups in a way that social liberals would never tolerate within the host society.
Multiculturalism, according to Hasan, gave way after 9/11 to what he calls “multifaithism”. This is a highly fissured social model where increased government reluctance to criticise or interfere has damaged social cohesion, leading to the psychic detachment of certain minorities, especially South Asian Muslims.
Matthews says Hasan finds this profoundly unsatisfactory, and:
Brilliantly points out the anomalies and double standards inherent in the respect and recognition accorded to newly-arrived cultural groups. The host society is expected to change in response to the new arrivals, but individuals arriving are not, and are instead to be “celebrated” in their “difference”. It is the host society that is assumed to be flawed and open to criticism, while the newly arrived community is exempt from any criticism at all. Multiculturalism, as currently implemented, thus violates universalist principles in the areas of both law and social equality.
Multiculturalism, Hasan argues, preserves oppressive practices and deprives members of minority communities of individual liberty and the right of self expression; they become prisoners of the larger group, condemned to mono-culturalism and mono-faithism.
Hasan suggests some constructive measures and solutions to the problems facing migrant groups. The solution, he believes, is more intermixing, less segregation and the creation of a vision of a shared (and distinctly secular) future. These are, naturally, left-wing, progressive solutions, for Hasan feels no obligation to preserve either host or immigrant cultures in their present form. This stance pervades the book, and lends it its overall flavour.
Hasan has agreed to an exclusive interview with the Freethinker, which will be published in the print edition, then later online.