SHAFAQNA – Â The Prime Minister last month delivered a strong speech on extremism, directed Âprimarily at Muslims, in which he spoke about the need to promote strong British values.
Writing in theÂ Sunday People, Dr Shuja Shafi asks what exactly are British Âvalues and who gets to define them?
BeforeÂ Mr Cameronâ€™s Cabinet ÂcolleagueÂ Michael Gove changed his mind, he is once reported to have said â€œthere is something rather un-British about seeking to define Britishnessâ€.
Now Mr Cameron says that we must be â€œrespecting Âdifferent faiths but also expecting those faiths to support the British way of lifeâ€.
That way of life includes respecting democracy and the rule of law, Âfreedom of speech, of worship and the of press plus equal rights Âregardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith. These human values Âresonate Âpositively in our Islamic faith, even though both extremists and the Âanti-Muslim bigots who thrive on negative Âstereotypes of Muslims would have you think otherwise.
I have no problem in Âsupporting these values. I only wished they were applied consistently.
We talk of Âdemocracy and the rule of law at home while our foreign policy lends support to dictators and Âhuman-rights abusers abroad.
And while we struggle to get to grips with British values, we find it even harder to agree on the history taught in our schools from which we derive our values.
Of course we should Âcelebrate the contribution of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish soldiers who fought for our freedoms in the First and Second World Wars. We seem less keen to discuss the legacy of colonialism that has a direct effect in the world we live in. This debate on British values is relatively recent and I welcome it.
But must it take place under the shadow of terrorism, where Âsupposedly un-integrated Muslims are the Âprimary focus?
As individuals and communities, we have long been part of the fabric of this country. Weâ€™ve given much and have much more to give.
As a community we face many Âchallenges in overcoming Âmarginalisation, discrimination, Âdisadvantage and suspicion.
It is these obstacles, not Islam or Muslims, that stand in the way of our fuller participation in society.