Sat 1st Nov 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

Has multiculturalism helped to tear our society apart? And was Tariq Jahan’s noble behaviour an implicit rejection of it, an appeal to common values?

The inquest continues; this is an important question we need to resolve

By on Friday, 12 August 2011

Tariq Jahan: 'Please respect the memory of our sons by staying away from trouble' (PA photo)

Tariq Jahan: 'Please respect the memory of our sons by staying away from trouble' (PA photo)

Now it looks as though the police are on top of the problem of public disorder, everyone is busily asking what were the lessons of the astonishing rioting that looked as though it was tearing the country apart. I have already given my opinion that the main cause is the undermining of the married family – and the resulting social disintegration – that has been going on (often as a direct result of government policies) for half a century at least. But there is more to be said, a lot more. It has already emerged that much of what needs to be understood can be learned from the spontaneous behaviour of so many people who have acted in a way which absolutely negates the destructiveness of the last few days, and which gives hope that we are not doomed to go down this road forever.

Sometimes, after a wake-up call people don’t go to sleep again until they have actually begun to put things right. And it has become clear that we need to draw the lessons, not only from the destructiveness of the looters (and its direct causes) but from the generous and decent behaviour that we have witnessed. And first of all, before we move on, let us get clearly into our minds so that we remember it always the literally iconic words of Tariq Jahan (one definition of an icon is that it is “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something”. This remarkable man stands for something that we need to learn. This is what he said (you can see him saying it here) to a very angry crowd who were spoiling for vengeance (most of them were Asians; the killers were black):

My name is Tariq Jahan. I’ve come to speak for what happened to my son. His name was Haroon Jahan.

I’m no professional TV man, but what I have to say I’ve written down, and if you can understand, we should be able to get along.

Last night, we lost three cherished members of our community. They were taken from us in a way that not father, mother, sister, brother should have to endure.

Today, we stand here, to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stand united.

As we stand here today, this is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of the community – all faiths, all colours and backgrounds.

Please respect the memory of our sons, and the grief of our family and loved ones by staying away from trouble, and not going out tonight.

Basically, I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites, we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? What started these riots, and what’s escalated, why are we doing this? I lost my son. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home – please.

And they did. A few days later, Mr Jahan gave an interview to the Times, in words which made me think about what he had said. He sounded to me like a Catholic, and certainly not like my idea of a Muslim.

“All I want,” he told the Times, “is for there to be peace and for my family to be able to pray for my son. I have no grievance against anyone, especially the guy who ran his car into my son. I don’t feel anger. What he did I leave in the hands of the Lord to punish him the way he wants.”

Hang on, I thought; don’t Muslims believe in the lex talionis, an eye for an eye? Is this man a convert or what? “Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved… for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19).

I looked it up on the net; and there it was: “Murder requires retribution and vengeance. In Islam blood revenge is a law of Allah.” On closer inspection however, that turned out to be a probably evangelical site aimed at converting Muslims. I’m in deep water here, a non-specialist trying to do this sort of thing on the internet: you have to be careful. But without further comment from me (except to say that it looks as though I have always had this one wrong) and after looking at several Muslim sites, here is what one of them says:

Islam is often accused of having legislation that encourages retaliation rather than forgiveness. But the Qur’an itself refutes this…

And the retribution for an injury is one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward is [due] from Allah.

The least that can be said is that there are Islamic values which are recognisable by Christians and compatible with those of a Christian culture. This poses an interesting question, directly relevant to the lessons we need to learn from all this. Is Tariq Jahan’s noble behaviour a victory for multiculturalism? Or is it the direct opposite, a refutation of it, a demonstration that it is only by appealing to common values that we can forge a decent society? Melanie Phillips yesterday argued strongly and to me persuasively that multiculturalism has driven us all apart:

Despite the violent mayhem across Britain over the past few days, it is important to point out that there have also been heartening examples of cross-community co-operation and solidarity. Sikhs have been volunteering to stand guard over mosques;

Muslims have been guarding gurdwaras; ultra-orthodox Jewish men in Stamford Hill handed out challah loaves to people forced out of their homes in the conflagration; and people of all colours and creeds have been coming together to clean up their communities after the mayhem.

This is how a healthy society should behave: people from different communities and creeds co-operating in a neighbourly, helpful and respectful way. That is very different from multiculturalism, which is often wrongly assumed to mean precisely this. It does not…

Multiculturalism is a baleful creed which, far from bringing people together, drives them apart. That is because multiculturalism is not a synonym for people from different cultures all getting along together. If this were so, it would be no more than a re-statement of how all decent and civilised societies should behave… It is multiculturalism which has done so much to wreck Britain; it is multiculturalism which has resulted in police neglect of black-on-black murder and gang warfare; it is multiculturalism which has helped create the anomie, amorality and utter absence of attachment to any notion of the common good which manifested itself in the anarchy on the streets of British cities.

What do you think? Is she right? That’s not a rhetorical question: I would like to know.

  • Anonymous

    I think she is right, people in a (usually) civilised society are generally capable of rubbing along together and overcoming their differences by using good old-fashioned give and take. Immigration and migration are part of life and always have been, different parts of towns and cities have traditionally had concentrations of one nationality or ethnic group, ’twas ever that way, and over time these areas changed for a multitude of reasons, nature took its course. However, coming hot on the heels of the patronising twaddle that is “political correctness” came multiculturalism. Yes, something we’ve had for thousands of years was given a name, a goal and probably a mission statement too in case we might not notice it. YOU DON’T KNOW THIS GUY FROM ADAM BUT YOU’RE GONNA GET ON WITH HIM FAMOUSLY ALRIGHT? I SAID ALRIGHT? Yes, enforced “harmony” or else. Anybody who dared to disagree was automatically racist or homophobic or any number of other isms/ists/phobics. The best way to cause hatred is to enforce “love” (this is as true to the battered spouse today as it was in Communist Russia, a place people “loved” so much, that many died trying to escape it) so people kept quiet for fear of being labelled and on we went merrily handing out cash and paying people to breed to ensure a steady stream of Labour voters whilst at the same time taking away any hope these same people had, until one day it came to an end. No money folks, sorry. Only now, with this nasty little piece of social engineering shown up for what it really is, people could once again say what they’d been wanting to for years, and they did. Some felt the best way was to take it out on Croydon or Tottenham, others mowed down three innocent young men with a car. Make no mistake, some looters/rioters/murderers couldn’t tell you why they did it and it’s not solely down to “multiculturalism” but it and its creators must shoulder some of the blame. God Bless Tariq Jahan, I sincerely hope he and everybody affected by this ghastly act find peace in the future.

  • Brian A Cook

    Multiculturalism is a reaction to racialism and tribalism.  If we reject multiculturalism, what option do we have beside racialism or tribalism?  Look at what happened in Norway.  That’s the argument coming from proponents of multiculturalism. 

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I’ve often felt that your views on Muslims are heavily influenced by their negative portrayal in the media, which tends to blame every evil act done by a Muslim on their religion. One can’t really blame the media for that – since it’s purpose is to make money (or influence) and not to spread the news.

    If this one incident gets you (and others like you) to realise that Muslims have rational sensibilities just like the rest of us then something good might just come out of this situation.

  • Kevin

    Brian are you comparing the Achilles heel of a security policy exploited by an evil mastermind (sorry, not a madman, planned in documents what he was going to do for years) with mobs of anarchists giving themselves a free pass through some presumed calculus that can’t be explained and is wrong to start with? Aren’t you comparing the professionally evil assassin with the aimless amateur arsonist? True both can do immeasurable harm, but one is prepared and determined and the other is a band of idiots justifying crime with strength in numbers.

  • Dorothy

    Britain, of course, has been “multicultural” for centuries, not that anyone ever called it that. It is composed of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The English, Welsh and Scottish manage to rub along rather well, despite some grousing, some sly comedy and a little very bigotry, either from a very few ordinary folks with axes to grind or a few sneaky politicians. Meanwhile, the different regions in England and Scotland have always been distinct from each other, too. However, it is the similarities and the common belief in and love of a place called Britain that have kept these three (and some of the fourth) people in tolerable harmony with each other for the past 260 years. 

    The problem with “multiculturalism” is indeed that it is unnaturally enforced and that it stresses differences over similarities. It also provides no incentive for immigrants to England to become English, as foreign immigrants previously had for centuries. 
     

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a reaction to anything. It’s just another way of dividing and ruling people. I choose my friends because they are who they are, no other factors are involved. Enemies come largely the same way, I treat people as they treat me. What are you worried about, “the cult of the individual”?

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a reaction to anything. It’s just another way of dividing and ruling people. I choose my friends on an individual basis, no other factors are involved. Enemies come the same way, it is what it is. What are you worried about, the “cult of the individual”?

  • Parasum

    “….the spontaneous behaviour of so many people…”

    Matthew Paris, writing in “The Times”, reckons that only 200 people were involved; and that some them may have gone from one place to another, with the intention of making trouble. If he’s right, there are people, like many so-called football fans in the recent past. who, far from acting spontaneously, deliberately go from place to place to cause mayhem.

    “Zero tolerance” beckons. The implication of any other course of action is that thuggery, vandalism and murder are tolerable. They are not. Cowardly & amoral permissiveness – which is really a form of the sin of sloth – has got us into this mess. Why do the clergy – who are supposed to be our guides in religion – not point out details like that ? This country is descending ever deeper into Dante’s “Inferno”, which is an allegory of the journey from depth to depth of corruption not only in the individual, but also in society, whether state or Church.

  • Parasum

    “Multiculturalism is a baleful creed which, far from bringing people together, drives them apart.”

    Exactly – it’s a creed, part of the anti-Gospel of Political Correctness. To be PC & Christian, is “disparity of cult”. She is right. The question is, whether she knows how right her analysis is, and why.

    “Muslims have been guarding gurdwaras; ultra-orthodox Jewish men in
    Stamford Hill handed out challah loaves to people forced out of their
    homes in the conflagration; and people of all colours and creeds have
    been coming together to clean up their communities after the mayhem.

    This
    is how a healthy society should behave: people from different
    communities and creeds co-operating in a neighbourly, helpful and
    respectful way.”

    ## That is a half-truth. And all the more dangerous for being one. A danger no-one seems to be aware of – which is perhaps an indication of how greatly we are influenced by it – is that Christian ethics & other ethics may include & result in the same goods, but do so for very different reasons.

  • Anonymous

    Matthew Parris reckons lots of things, sometimes he’s (in my opinion) pretty much on the money. He’s also pretty quick to avoid blaming anybody for anything (lest he upsets a minority) and I don’t blame him for taking that approach. I know lots of football hooligans, I socialise with them every few weeks, and in my experience the furthest most of them want to travel is to the bar and then back to the safety of their “mob” in whichever corner of whichever pub they happen to be in. Your average wannabe “gangsta” 13-25 year old is scared to leave his “endz” (area/postcode) unless he’s mob-handed. The problem with “rolling deep” (in a gang) is that it attracts attention two or three streets away, never mind doing a circuit of London, and news travels in milliseconds these days. No “crew” (or whatever the venacular for a firm is these days) in their right mind would dream of mounting such an operation, because firstly the hierarchy to control such an effort doesn’t exist and secondly, taught (not learned) hatred and suspicion breeds a (admittedly synthetic) need to display this that overcomes all else, for fear (a genuine fear) of being seen as disloyal. Matthew Parris is very wrong. Zero tolerance is another subject, but I’m tired so I’m going to bed! Have a peaceful weekend.

  • Abdullah

    Islam and Christianity are very similar.

    A saying of prophet Muhammed: “None of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” is  almost identical to the Biblical commandment “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.(Matthew 7:12)

  • Mourad Fleming

    Before giving any credence at all to what Melanie Phillips writes on any subject, it is as well to refresh one’s memory of her hobbyhorses.  See her wikipedia entry at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Phillips.

    Ms Phillips is an Eristic polemicist.  Her aim is to win the argument not to seek out the true or more probable answer on any particular issue but to make a bad cause seem better – and a principal and consistent objective is to promote the Israeli right and its policies and to denigrate Arabs and Muslims.

    Of course she writes persuasively, that’s her skill – and that’s what makes her so dangerous.  Her polemic against multiculturism is just that: skilful and dangerous.  It is written to appeal to the baser instincts of the white lower middle class:  racism, xenophobia and, I am afraid, neofascism.

  • Anonymous

    It isnot multiculturalism that has been the cause of the breakdown in society, but the immoral values we are subjected to constantly, either through the media ,and via television. We are told all that we are shown on television is the correct way to live, and it is just Soul destroying immorality. Until we end abortion, nothing will improve .  Abortion is the worst thing we have allowed to be unleashed on our society, and now we start to see its fruits.

  • JJ

    “Mr Jahan gave an interview to the Times, in words which made me think about what he had said. He sounded to me like a Catholic, and certainly not like my idea of a Muslim.”

    Quite ignorant of you?

    “The least that can be said is that there are Islamic values which are recognisable by Christians and compatible with those of a Christian culture”

    Have you even studied Islam? Most of it is Christianity, go read the Quran you will find more mention of Christian figures then Muhammad himself. Muslims believe that Judaism came to guide people on the right path but it got corrupted and so Christianity came and then that got corrupted and so Islam came and only in the last days will they be united. There is a quote that states that of anything in the Bible or the Torah that is not mentioned in the Quran or the Hadith that Muslims are to neither “believe nor disbelieve it.”

    I do not think multiculturalism has failed I just think ignorant people (like you in my opinion from reading this article) have failed to try and accept that while people are different they are still good people. Sadly society does not accept that everyone is good but assumes everyone is bad until they have seen a good act.

    I think Tariq Jahan is not a good person because of society or culture but because of religion. 

    If anyone does comment on my post I shall try my best to reply.

  • FG

    What is amazing with this article is not that the action of one man has made some understand that Islamic values as they are. 
    What I find amazing is that there are bigots who NEEDED such an incident to make them realise this and who  REALLY believed all the crap they read in papers about muslims living and dying in the wish to kill? 
    Islam is a religion that stems from Christianity and Judaism and its values are very much the same moral values most people stand by – religion or no religion. 
    It is a peaceful religion whose name is tarnished by some other bigots. 
    Extremism is done in the name of Islam, but that hardly makes Islam (or most muslims) extremist. Just like the current riots done in the name of “fighting against poverty and oppression against minority communities” does not make all poor people or people of ethnic minorities looters and criminals. 

  • Alan

    My 91 year old father’s body still bears the marks of the Glasgow razor gangs and remembers his father and uncle rioting in Saltmarket when the government cut benefits in 1931.

    He tells a story of almost daily street violence in the deadly enmity between Catholic and Protestant …….

    I have been struck by the way people from every side have tried to use these recent events to underpin their own particular set of ideas. I have also been struck by the ignorance of so many commentators particularly in respect of the history of their own country.

    Multiculturalism now appears to have a VERY diverse number of definitions, again one’s definition appears to depend on where one stands on broader issues. I find it illuminating, but not about the riots.

     

  • ppsitt

    Tariq jahan rises to the level prophets in his act of piety of forgiveness and healing. Mr Jahan sets a spiritual standard to all us by showing to be spiritual, one can be just ordinary, not an extra-ordinary human being. As a Catholic I am proud to call him my brother. Why not? Muslims are our younger brothers. Are’t they? Praise G-d. Amen

  • ppsitt

    Mr Jahan through his words of compassion has shattered the stereotypes of what people think or believe of Muslims and Islam. Mr Jahan should be welcome in all non-Muslim communities in UK and ask to talk for healing and understanding. He represents the true spirit of Islam in the sacred words of Holy Quran ” BISMILLAH AL-RAHMAN AL-RAHIM ( IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE BENEFICIENT AND MERCIFUL )
    As a Catholic I am proud to call him my brother. Why not? After all we all come from Abraham.

  • Anonymous

    Veronica2756. Speak for yourself about television “showing the right way to live”, it’s not my guide. Perhaps we should abort watching the TV, now that that would be an improvement.

  • guest

    Melanie Phillips is a right wing Nazi and few have done more then her to cause interracial strife.
    People have different cultures. And this is a small world. And in this small world we all have to get along despite being different.
    But people like Phillips  call for a mono culture, just as the Nazis did. So much so, that she managed to inspire mass murder in Norway.

  • W Oddie

    “Quite ignorant of you?”  Well, if you read the article again you will see that that’s exactly what I’m admitting.

  • Oliver P

    So Melanie Philips claims one definition of
    multiculturalism – which for some reason you omit from your quote, citing only
    her negative definitions – and then proceeds to reject it. It’s a simple
    rhetorical trick designed to obscure the multiple meanings of the term
    multiculturalism and lead the reader to agree with Ms Philips that her bigoted
    definition of (bad, wicked, lefty, wrong) multiculturalism must be, as it were
    naturally, correct. Opening the term back up to range of possible
    interpretations/meanings, I’m trying to think of anywhere more multicultural
    than my parish church and currently failing to do so. (Oh and: ‘the literally
    iconic words of…’  LOL – you really are stretching the
    language a little yourself there!)

  • Anonymous

    In reply to Abdulla – Please do not kid yourself by quoting universal values that God has placed within the Heart of Man (or Woman) as evidence for similarity. Here is the exclusiveness about Christianity
     
    The core message of Christianity is NOTHING like Islam.
     
    Christianity’s single most important message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD. He is the Second person of the Trinity who is fully human and divine.
     
    It is the Christian Gospel that calls on all human beings to believe in Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection in order to be Forgiven, saved and reunited with God the Father. The Bible states explicitly that Jesus is the only way that human kind can be saved. Following religious rules and religious regulations, mean nothing without Jesus Christ at the centre of it.
     
    Islam states that God has NO son and that the Gospel that a Christian believe in are based on lies and mistruth.
     
    To compare both as similiar is to totally miss the point of both of their messages.
     
    I understand that people want to get on and live in peace by forgetting the issues that divide. Unfortunately the Son of GOD doesnt give you that comfort…….”Who do you say i am”?  He does not allow you to compromise on this issue unless you are willing to put your salvation at risk.
     
    All roads do not lead to God and whilst the universal Morals that God has given man may be displayed in any religion (simply because they are human beings created in the image of God, even though fallen), the core message is life threatingly different and should never be confused for the sake of compromise.
     
    Can Christianity honestly live in peace with Islam? Well, for a Christian, paul says that “in so much that it depends on you”.  The evidence is that we accept it in a nominally christian country and we go out of our way to accomodate it at the expense of our own tradition.
    Does Islam honestly wish to live in peace with Christians? Well, the evidence is that on a personal level, yes, but on a political level, no. They either push christians away, burn them out, reduce them to second class communities or simply kill them. Look at the Middle east for the evidence i would present.
     
    Christianity and Islam is NOT the same. The persons leading you to their version of GOD were and are totally different. One was the son of God, witnessess to by signs and wonders and the Resurrection, the other claimed to be a Prophet who denied the son of God.
     
    Similar they are not, but here comes the inclusiveness of Christianity – It is open to anyone who would put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the SON of God. He offers forgiveness of Sin, the power to turn around wasted life and promises to place the Holy Spirit within those who believe. Real Christianity is not based on rules and regulations alone, but one of the Creator of the universe himself sharing his life IN you and adopting you as a Child of GOD. Forgiveness and a new start is on offer to anyone who dares believe and it is PROVEN by the Holy Spirit who seals you for eternity.
     
    Is Islam the same as Christianity? Is the penalty of sin paid for in the Blood of Christ?
     
    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is tough to chew on in a world that hates black and white, truth verses fiction, but this is the Gospel and nothing is comparable to it.

  • Anonymous

    Please do not kid yourself by quoting universal values that God has placed within the Heart of Man (or Woman) as evidence for similarity. Here is the exclusiveness about Christianity
     
    The core message of Christianity is NOTHING like Islam.
     
    Christianity’s single most important message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of GOD. He is the Second person of the Trinity who is fully human and divine.
     
    It is the Christian Gospel that calls on all human beings to believe in Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection in order to be Forgiven, saved and reunited with God the Father. The Bible states explicitly that Jesus is the only way that human kind can be saved. Following religious rules and religious regulations, mean nothing without Jesus Christ at the centre of it.
     
    Islam states that God has NO son and that the Gospel that a Christian believe in are based on lies and mistruth.
     
    To compare both as similiar is to totally miss the point of both of their messages.
     
    I understand that people want to get on and live in peace by forgetting the issues that divide. Unfortunately the Son of GOD doesnt give you that comfort…….”Who do you say i am”?  He does not allow you to compromise on this issue unless you are willing to put your salvation at risk.
     
    All roads do not lead to God and whilst the universal Morals that God has given man may be displayed in any religion (simply because they are human beings created in the image of God, even though fallen), the core message is life threatingly different and should never be confused for the sake of compromise.
     
    Can Christianity honestly live in peace with Islam? Well, for a Christian, paul says that “in so much that it depends on you”.  The evidence is that we accept it in a nominally christian country and we go out of our way to accomodate it at the expense of our own tradition.
    Does Islam honestly wish to live in peace with Christians? Well, the evidence is that on a personal level, yes, but on a political level, no. They either push christians away, burn them out, reduce them to second class communities or simply kill them. Look at the Middle east for the evidence i would present.
     
    Christianity and Islam is NOT the same. The persons leading you to their version of GOD were and are totally different. One was the son of God, witnessess to by signs and wonders and the Resurrection, the other claimed to be a Prophet who denied the son of God.
     
    Similar they are not, but here comes the inclusiveness of Christianity – It is open to anyone who would put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the SON of God. He offers forgiveness of Sin, the power to turn around wasted life and promises to place the Holy Spirit within those who believe. Real Christianity is not based on rules and regulations alone, but one of the Creator of the universe himself sharing his life IN you and adopting you as a Child of GOD. Forgiveness and a new start is on offer to anyone who dares believe and it is PROVEN by the Holy Spirit who seals you for eternity.
     
    Is Islam the same as Christianity? Is the penalty of sin paid for in the Blood of Christ?
     
    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is tough to chew on in a world that hates black and white, truth verses fiction, but this is the Gospel and nothing is comparable to it.
     

  • guest

    The Catholic Church in the UK is multicultural and diverse, which is why many parish churches has masses in different languages. Quoting the Daily Fail, which is not known for tolerance and makes this paper look liberal is not good.

  • JJ

    Which is exactly the problem.

    Did you have any reason to be ignorant in the first place? No you did not – I can quote the bible for you as well to prove that if you are a true Christian then you should not have been ignorant about others.