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British Prime Minister David Cameron recently caused a stir by declaring that the policy of multiculturalism and “hands-off tolerance” had failed. His comments echo those made by German and French leaders, and raise questions about the role of religious and ethnic minorities in an increasingly diverse Europe. We’ll talk about multiculturalism, security, and shifting identities in the UK and the United States.
- Jonathan Githens-Mazer Co-Director, European Muslim Research Centre and Co-Director, Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, University of Exeter
- Jahan Mahmood Historian based in Birmingham, UK
- Robert (Bob) Leiken Director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C.; Author of the forthcoming book, "Europe's Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation"
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, the NCAA Final Four, March Madness and the money behind it. But first, multiculturalism is a failure.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThat, in essence, is what British Prime Minister, David Cameron, told world leaders in a major speech last month. He said Britain's longstanding policies on multiculturalism had encouraged different cultures to live separate lives apart from each other and the mainstream. Cameron was mostly talking about Britain's Muslim population and he's not alone in his views.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel also says she thinks her country's efforts to build a multicultural society have failed. So where does that leave these increasingly diverse nations and what sort of warning, if any, does Europe's experience hold for the U.S.?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us to talk about that is Bob Leiken. He is director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Center for the National Interest in Washington D.C. and author of the forthcoming book, "Europe's Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation." Bob Leiken, good to see you again.
MR. ROBERT LEIKENGood to be here, thanks.
NNAMDIJoining us by telephone from Birmingham in U.K. is Jahan Mahmood, historian and researcher. He's been conducting interviews for young Muslims around British identity -- conducting seminars for young Muslims around British identity since the year 2005. Jahan Mahmood, thank you for joining us.
MR. JAHAN MAHMOODYou're welcome.
NNAMDIAnd Jonathan Githens-Mazer is co-director of the European Muslim Research Center and Co-director of the Exeter Center of Ethno-Political Studies at the University of Exeter. He joins us by phone from Exeter. Jonathan, thank you for joining us.
MR. JONATHAN GITHENS-MAZERThank you so much.
NNAMDII'll start with you, Jonathan. As I mentioned, this speech by David Cameron was targeted pretty directly at Britain's Muslims. Give us some more insight about the message that he was sending.
GITHENS-MAZERWell, because one of the things that we have to do is think about the context of the speech itself. And I think there's two real key factors here to take into consideration. But one is that when the Tory government, when the conservative government came into power last spring, they did so on the back of largely an agenda that claimed that immigration had gone wild in Britain.
GITHENS-MAZERThat there was, in a sense, too much of a cultural transformation associated with this immigration and so that's one kind of vein that lies behind the speech. The other is that when the Tories took power, they wanted to go back and re-examine and indeed revise the labor government's counterterrorism policies.
GITHENS-MAZERNamely, what we call the Prevent Agenda, which in American (word?) is somewhere to the countering violent extremism agenda, trying to find community partners in Muslim communities to engage with, to deal with issues of terrorism. And the review of Prevent, we expect to be published in about, well, anytime in the next four weeks really, perhaps after Easter.
GITHENS-MAZERAnd this speech, in some ways, gives a preview of what that review of the Prevent Policy, the kind of counterterrorism policy, which is about working with Muslim community partners and trying to find ways to engage in partnership to counter extremism and terrorism. So there's a clear kind of political context for this speech itself.
NNAMDIJahan Mahmood, you work with young Muslims in Birmingham. How are they responding to this apparent shift from the British government?
MAHMOODWell, to be honest with you, I think that many of the young people that I meet have a very clear view in their hearts and mind about the government as being anti-Muslim. So the Prime Minister saying what he said -- and I agree with Jonathan, it needs to be understood in context, is that often it's not understood in context.
MAHMOODTo them, it's just another attack on the Muslim community and all it seems to do is polarize further and isolate them. So I don't think it's been well received at all, to be honest.
NNAMDIBob Leiken, your take on this?
LEIKENYou know, I think this speech was interesting. It made distinctions between Islam and what he'd call Islamic-extremism. It made distinctions between Islam and Islamism. I think it could've gone further and made distinctions among -- within Islamism and in that case, I think it probably would have been a little more generous to the previous policy that was described.
NNAMDIJonathan, in Britain, the idea of multiculturalism means something different than it does here. Can you explain what this word tends to mean to most Brits?
GITHENS-MAZERWell, Kojo, one of the things is what it means is desperately unclear and it's provided a great kind of punching bag for politicians to say in the same way that every politician likes to put a chicken in every pot and kiss all the babies. Everyone can say they hate multiculturalism without everyone agreeing what that actually means.
GITHENS-MAZERYou know, one of the things within the British context is you have to remember that the transformation in Britain over the past 60 or 70 years is dramatic within Britain itself. It is much more ethnically, culturally, racially religiously diverse than it was in pre-war Britain and before.
GITHENS-MAZERNow, multiculturalism, traditionally in the British context, has been associated with anti-racism and creating, in some ways, ways of engaging with different kinds of communities. But what's happened, in terms of multiculturalism within the conservative context, the conservative party context, is that it really means dominant culture.
GITHENS-MAZERThat people aren't acting in some ways, whatever it certainly means to them, but British enough. And, you know, I think that's just ridiculous because I'm sure Jahan can tell you better than I can about this, but one of the things is, you know, when people go in and ask second, third generation Muslims living around Britain, when they ask them are you British or Muslim, everyone answers they're British and Muslim. So it creates this kind of very -- a peculiar way of defining community relations.
NNAMDII'd like to hear what our listeners think about this. To what extent should people be expected to change to fit into a new culture? 800-433-8850 or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there, send us a tweet at kojoshow or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NNAMDIJahan, Americans know that London is a very diverse city, but we don't necessarily know much about the rules that ethnic and religious minorities play in other cities. Talk, if you would, about the way multiculturalism is viewed or defined in Birmingham.
MAHMOODThat's a very good point. I often go to London to give seminars and interventions and talk and I noticed that when I'm there, I feel much more the fabric of London perhaps and that's because we have so many faces from so many different backgrounds and they have all jelled together. They seem to work and have some kind of a relationship at least.
MAHMOODBut in Birmingham, we have some very isolated pockets. We have quite a strong Muslim community here in Birmingham and a single authority it deals with the largest Muslim community. So what I noticed in Birmingham, as I've done my mapping and research and fieldwork, is that you get some very strong Muslim areas.
MAHMOODYou get some very strong, wide areas and sometimes they don't tend to meet. And as a result, what we're seeing is we're seeing young men growing up in that particular culture and tradition, not really appreciating people beyond their own understanding and own cultural values and so forth. And that is causing some tension now.
MAHMOODAs particularly with, Islam-aphobia rising and there is -- without a doubt, there is a very kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric as well that is disturbing this kind of balance. But is something of major concern. But the further up north you go, to Manchester and Bradford, that you'll notice that it -- the situation becomes far worse from the south for instance and so it's very different to London. And even within these cities of Birmingham, there is a variation.
MAHMOODThere isn't one particular understanding. You'll notice that even within the Muslim community, there are differences, there are issues. And sometimes, you say that this particular Muslim community isn't integrated enough, but if we look at the case, for instance, of Indian-Muslims, we noticed that they're doing better in employment, better at education, better than their Pakistani counterparts.
MAHMOODSo it's not quite as easy as some people can just pinpoint and say, well, this is the problem. And I would strongly urge against that -- strongly argue against that.
NNAMDIBob Leiken, if you compare Britain to France or Germany, Britain has always taken something of a different approach, both to its colonies and to the immigrants that have subsequently come to Britain, right?
LEIKENThat's exactly right. France, for example, tried to integrate -- wanted to integrate its colonies into France, into the hexagon, and regarded them as kind of divisions of France. Britain, on the other hand, was much more multicultural, even its empire. It allowed the communities to -- that they conquered, to basically follow their own culture, to be separate.
LEIKENAnd so when Muslims came to Britain and when they came to France, they were treated differently. The French emphasized assimilation, at least formally they do, and in Britain, the emphasis was on multiculturalism or pluralism.
NNAMDIAnd, Jonathan, it seems that the interpretation of that aspect of multiculturalism in Britain is simply live and let live. You don't necessarily have to integrate, so to speak.
GITHENS-MAZERWell, you know, one of the things that women talk about, in terms of national identities in Europe, is the difference between degrees of civic and ethnic nationalism, the question-- the extent to which national identities are colorblind, but potentially not culture blind.
GITHENS-MAZERBritain tended to be a society that, in terms of national identity, emphasized equality of rule under the law, a sense of fair play, a sense of identity that tolerated difference. And we all know the stereotypes of tolerating kind of British eccentricity, but to a certain extent, the tolerated degree of difference as long as there was a general adherence to equality under the law.
GITHENS-MAZERWhereas, in the French case, one found that, of course, this was about if you acted French enough, you could, in some ways, reach a glass ceiling of being French enough. But it's very peculiar because, of course, what's happened in Tory government, in a conservative government, but actually in so many ways is anti-European and anti-European union, it's actually embraced a very European form of identity. And this really is part of the absolute kind of transformation and it was no accident that the speeches, of course, referred to -- Cameron's speech was referred to as the Munich speech.
GITHENS-MAZERHe delivered it in Germany before, you know, a variety of European leaders. But I think Jahan eluded something actually quite important, which is when Cameron -- the same day that Cameron gave the speech in Munich, there was an English Defense League rally in Luton, just outside of London. Now, the English Defense League is specifically anti-Muslim. And not just anti-Islamist, but literally anti-Islam. And so we see kind of a real sea change in the way that this government thinks that it should be engaging or not engaging with Muslim communities.
NNAMDII'm really glad you brought up the English Defense League. I was going to get to it later, but I might as well go right now because the English Defense League opposes what it sees as the rise of Islamic extremism and Sharia law in Britain. Here is a clip of one of its leaders, Tommy Robinson, giving an interview to an Australian news outlet.
MR. TOMMY ROBINSONIt's warring for our kid's future, especially with the demographics of the Islamic communities. And we know that their communities are breeding 10 times faster than ours, which wouldn't be a problem if the problems that come with Islam weren't there. It's just -- it wouldn't be a problem. And when (unintelligible) and every other community has come to England, the (word?) community, the Hindu community, the West Indian communities, pretty much all of them have been -- are growing perfectly and embraced this country for what it is apart from the Islamic faith.
MR. TOMMY ROBINSONAnd I know that if you look around -- if you look around Europe, if you go to Holland, it's the Moroccans kicking off. If you go to France, it's the Algerians kicking off. If you come to England, it's the Pakistanis kicking off. No matter where you go, one link between all of them is Islam.
NNAMDIJonathan, give us some perspective on the English Defense League. How widespread is this sort of view in Britain? And then Jahan.
GITHENS-MAZEROne of the things one finds, the English Defense League is a fairly recent development. Oftentimes, it goes hand in hand with an organization called Stop the Islamification of Europe. Now, part of it represents the kind of British National Party, the National Front, previous forms of hardcore nationalists, racist organizations. But the thing is, the rhetoric that they use has a degree of kind of latent popular resonance because what they do is they pick up on the ways that Muslims are only portrayed in newspapers as terrorists or ne'er-do-wells or extremists.
GITHENS-MAZERRather than -- in fact, all the kind of great work that Jahan does, which really shows that there's -- not only do Muslim communities throughout Britain, diverse Muslim communities, it must be racially diverse, ethnically diverse, religiously diverse, but the way these communities actually participate very constructively in everyday politics, in everyday societies and in all those kinds of normal things. But when the -- an average person only ever reads about Islam with reference to terrorism and foreign conflicts, this, in some ways, helps to bolster the resonance of this anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic message that comes out from the English Defense League.
NNAMDIJahan, your take on the English Defense League?
MAHMOODWell, the way that I look at it is that, you know, you know, you have -- within every community, you have a minority fringe group. And let's look at the formulation first for the foundation of EDL. How were they created? I mean, these guys have seen the way a group on the opposite side, from the Muslim community, another fringe group who are considered by the Muslim to be completely raving lunatics, once called al-Muhajiroun and they changed their name to Al-Ghurabaa, Islam4UK, they were led by Omar Bakri who's now living and trying to orchestrate things from exile.
MAHMOODHis lieutenant, who currently leads this particular group (unintelligible) have challenged on the streets locally because he has been trying to recruit young Muslims into his very hard-lined, rigid and extremist understanding of Islam. And what they did was they had a protest in Luton against the armed forces, saying they're going to hell, they're butchers and so forth. And to be honest with you, in the end, you know, some people just couldn't digest that anymore.
MAHMOODAnd he's hate mongering. Really, all it's done is it's just increased hatred towards Muslims. And this is what I took him up on. But he just couldn't answer what I was asking him. And his arguments are very lame. But nonetheless, with the EDL, we're seeing a group of young men who, you know, who probably have been a failure in life. They haven't got much going for them.
MAHMOODAnd you look at where they recruited from. These guys are coming from pockets in Britain where there's unemployment and literacy issues. There's all sorts of issues. And also, a large fringe group from within the EDL are hooligans from football clubs. And the other thing that I don't take is that Tommy Robinson's understanding of Islam is just, I mean, it's just absolutely ridiculous that we can take this guy seriously.
NNAMDIWe've got to take a short break. When we come back, we'll get our callers and Bob Leiken back into this conversation. We're talking about the meaning of multiculturalism with a specific focus on Britain. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850 or shoot us an e-mail to email@example.com or tweet @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about multiculturalism with a focus on its various interpretations in Britain. Joining us by phone from Exeter in the U.K. is Jonathan Githens-Mazer, co-director of the European Muslim Research Center and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies at the University of Exeter. Jahan Mahmood is a historian and researcher who has been conducting seminars for young Muslims around British identity since 2005.
NNAMDIAnd joining us in our Washington studio is Bob Leiken, director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C. He is author of the forthcoming book, "Europe's Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation," which will be published by Oxford University Press later this year. Bob, you might expect that Britain would have the least amount of Muslim radicalization in Western Europe because of what some people would characterize as the Brits' relaxed attitudes towards culture. But that does not appear to be the case.
LEIKENThat's exactly right. Britain has been more relaxed and more tolerant, but yet the divisions and conflict in British society between Muslims and the rest of the country has been much more pronounced than in France, which is very assimilationist, which is very -- doesn't believe in the kind of multiculturalism that Britain pursues. And, of course, it was in Britain that there was the terrorist bombing. One would say, well, at the same time, in France, you have the riots of 2005, but those were not Islamic. I mean, there were Muslims in them, but they weren't raising Islamic slogans or demands. Whereas in Britain, of course, the terrorists were.
NNAMDIJahan, where does, in your view, radicalization come from, by and large, when it shows up among British Muslims? Is it primarily among new immigrants, second or third generation children and grandchildren of immigrants?
MAHMOODIt is. I've done a lot of work on radical groups and sit on a number of different panels and advisory groups on the radicalization process. And I've gone through a number of case studies and worked through them. And to be honest with you, it's second, third generation. And just coming back to what Bob said earlier, the point is that France and Britain is a very different context to some degree.
MAHMOODWe've got to understand that Britain has played a role in the Iraq war and, of course, Afghanistan and been a lead on it alongside the United States. And there's a lot of frustration and I feel a lot of contradiction as well. On one hand, we talk about human rights. On the other hand, we're bombing innocent people in Iraq and the long-standing British-Muslim relationship, which isn't really something that's seen in positive light for a number of centuries because of colonialism.
MAHMOODI think all of this mussed together, you know, produces a hotbed of young guys, some of them, yes, who are reeled in by jihadists and, you know, charismatic and recruiters. And not that I've seen many locally, but it's multi-faceted. This trajectory to radicalization is very multi-faceted. But one of the arguments that I hear time and time again, and having an expertise in all the history so I conduct a lot of interviews, is that it's the same thing that comes out each time. You know, we're going to Iraq. We're going to Afghanistan. We talk about human rights.
MAHMOODYou know, and young men will say to me, if we care about human rights, why don't we go to Tibet? Why don't we go to Nepal? Why didn't we save the people of Rwanda? And we talk about human rights. So some of them will not engage with you and they'll get very angry and emotions come through. So, I would say that foreign policy actually for me, in all the research that I've done, it's probably wrong that comes at higher up than some of the others as a driver and trigger to the roots to radicalization.
NNAMDIBefore I go to the telephones, Jonathan Githens-Mazer, you're an American living in Europe. Compare what you're seeing there with the kinds of public dialogues we have around culture and identity here in the U.S.
GITHENS-MAZERWell, it strikes me that one of the things one finds in terms of the debate of multiculturalism in Britain and actually through Europe is really clearly mirrored in a lot of the debates that one sees about race in the U.S. You know, when politicians use multiculturalism in the U.S. to say that African-American communities somehow need to act more white in order to get ahead, that they need to somehow integrate themselves, it indicates, in many ways, degrees of power, exercise of power of one community over another.
GITHENS-MAZERI think one sees a lot of parallels in that kind of way of thinking with the way that you see non-Muslim communities, especially kind of right now non-Muslim politicians trying to prescribe to that whole sways of, as Jahan described, very diverse Muslim communities about how they should behave. So rather than entering into a conversation about, saying, you know, here's how we can all make democracy work, here is an issue that bothers me. Does it bother you in the same way? Rather than creating spaces for a real kind of discussions, democratic, heated, heartfelt, but democratic discussions, it really becomes the basis for saying, I'm going to exercise power over you.
NNAMDIBob Leiken, I've omitted including you in the discussion we have of the generations in which radicalism is occurring in Europe and that, of course, is the premise of your book, "Europe's Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation."
LEIKENWell, that's exactly right. The -- most of the jihadi activity, the terrorist activity in Europe, has been second and third generation, as I think Jonathan said earlier. But what happens is curious vis-à-vis this debate on multiculturalism and the speech that was made. What happens is the children of immigrants, as children of immigrants frequently do all over the world, want to dissociate themselves from their old-fashioned parents and the old countries. But in England, and this is also true in Germany, in that search for identity where they don't identify their parents and looking for a new identity, they're not -- they do not feel welcome in the European country, in Britain or in Germany.
LEIKENThey still regard themselves as Muslims so they look for an Islam which is different from their parents' Islam. The parents frequently practice -- usually practice a Sufi, a traditional kind of folk Islam, whereas the kids often take up a very dogmatic, literal, sectarian Islam, somewhat like what we call Wahhabism. And that can lead to jihad, whereas the older Sufi traditional Islam very rarely does.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones now. Here is Bruce in Bethesda, Md. Bruce, you're on the air. Go ahead please.
BRUCEYes, thank you. In the reaction of ordinary people to Islam, there's an issue of the fact that it claims to be a proselytizing religion, certainly among many leaders. And proselytizing religions have been a rich source of violence over the centuries. And non-proselytizing religions, it's pretty much live and let live. No one cares if a Buddhist moves in next door to them. That's not likely to be an issue. The proselytizing religions, and certainly Christianity has a bad history in the past of violence, are simply threatening to everyone.
BRUCEAnd the person who just spoke made the point that the young Islamic students and that group are attracted to Wahhabism, this is a real threat. And I think that has to be addressed. It's not an accident that there is a fervor among non-Muslims about Islam, given the history, especially, of the 9/11 attack. The al-Qaeda made clear that one of its conditions to stop doing this was for the U.S. to, for example, embrace Sharia.
NNAMDIWell I'm sure, Bruce -- and I'll go to Jahan Mahmood for this. But I'm sure that a lot of young Muslims say it's ironic that somebody like our caller Bruce could be talking proselytizing religions when we in London or we in the United States live in the middle of a majority of people who practice a proselytizing religion known as Christianity. Jahan Mahmood, I'd also like to hear about if whether or not what Bob Leiken talks about in terms of young people in some measure rebelling, if you will, against their parents' view of Islam could be a factor.
MAHMOODThat's a very good point. Bob makes a valid point here that we do see that. And the reason that we see that, once again, boils down to contradictions in hypocrisies. The parents say that it's our way and there's no other way. And they have a very cultural traditional understanding of Islam. And as a result, the young people are saying, but hold on. I give you a classic example, arranged marriage. It doesn't say that in Islam. So, hence, you must be following Islam properly. Now I'm going to follow it properly and teach you what real Islam says.
MAHMOODNow, one very important watershed moment in British history really is around the '80s. I remember growing up and the literature that was out there that you could get your hands on for free was a very Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. It was free. It was distributed in many mosques. And I remember this whole generation was kind of merging and -- or emerging from this particular period, having this particular understanding of Islam, which is indeed very rigid interpretation of Islam.
MAHMOODAnd it wasn't until certain scholars kind of hit the mainstream -- and one of them being an American-Muslim scholar called Hamza Yusuf and he had such an impact on people like myself and others, who made us question our roots, who made us question our interpretation of Islam. And I realized, to be honest with you, I think it was around the early '90s that, you know, what I've been following for so long was just not right.
MAHMOODAnd today, yes, I'm a Sufi. I don't really proselytize my religion. I'm not a very good Muslim, but I'm not alone. There are many other people out there. When we talk about -- let's just get one point right. When we talk about Muslims in Britain, let me inform you that the majority of British Muslims are not proper practicing Muslims. They're like window shoppers. They'll choose what they want when they want to suit their own desires. But they're not out and out practicing Muslims.
MAHMOODThat's the point that needs to be very clear. Now getting back to the Sufi Islam with a more traditional understanding of Islam, that is something that picked up speed and has had a massive impact and is helping to counter some of the more rigid interpretations of Islam out there. And the Americans, as I said, the American scholar, Hamza Yusuf had a massive impact on dynamics on Britain.
NNAMDIBob, looking forward, are we moving into a period in Europe where nations are becoming less tolerant of minorities or is this a transitional phase as nations adjust to the changes in society?
LEIKENWow, that's a good question and a hard one to answer. I think it depends really on the country. Where I see a problem brewing is in Germany, which for a long time did not recognize as citizens German Turks, Turks who are born there that came from -- people who were born in Germany of Turkish ancestry. That has been changed somewhat in the last 10, 12 years. But you have a situation in Germany where it's not unusual for even third generation, grandchildren of immigrants to not speak German very much. They speak Turkish at home.
LEIKENAnd Germany, at the same time, has been the subject of a great deal of interest on the part of al-Qaeda and one of the groups associated with al-Qaeda training in Pakistan, German -- Turkish German. So I would say there is where I see some problems developing. You know, I think there are two tendencies as the one just described, the average Britain window shopping for Islam in the same way that the average French Muslim behaves. But at the same time, there has been this steam built up about mosques and about veils and stuff and it's hard to know which way this is going to go.
NNAMDIAnd you mentioned Germany. Jonathan, David Cameron did not give his speech in front of a domestic audience. He gave it to a group of world leaders in Munich. That is significant in your view. Why?
GITHENS-MAZERKojo, I think it's significant because, in some ways, it was very specifically chosen because what it does is it locks in British policy in a way that now there's no going back on it. By making this speech in front of European leaders, what it really means is Britain falls in kind of lockstep behind the policies of Merkel and Sarkozy. But can I just come back on one thing that your caller said, Kojo?
GITHENS-MAZERAnd I want to make two rather controversial points. And the one is, 9-11 was a total success for Al Qaida. A horrifically disturbing success, but tactically a success for them. Not because of the absolute devastating terrible destruction it reaped, and the death, but because of the reaction it garnered in people. Because people, whenever we talk about Islam or Islamism or Muslim communities now, we never talk about them without reference to terrorism.
GITHENS-MAZERAnd I'm pretty sure that when they were sitting in a cave, you know, on the other side of the world, they could not have foreseen, in some ways, a greater success. Because, of course, that puts pressures on Muslim communities around the world all the time not to participate as regular normal people going about their average daily lives, but always having to prove that they're not terrorists.
NNAMDIWhich brings me to this, because we're running out of time, Jonathan, but go ahead, please finish your sentence.
GITHENS-MAZERWell, the only other thing I wanted to say is, one of the problems, too, is when we say it's Wahhabism or when we says is philosophism, there are however many millions of people who would describe themselves a Wahhabi-oriented, yet aren't terrorists. So we have a real causation problem as well when we start talking about what causes people to become radicalized.
NNAMDIAnd finally, Jahan, can you tell us a little bit about the young people that you're working with in Birmingham? Do they seem to be young people who have good prospects in front of them, in terms of education or jobs, or are their options more limited?
MAHMOODI think the options are more limited under the conservative government that's bringing in certain policies around, you know, cutting back jobs and so forth. And they already feel like they're on the back foot, and being Muslim and having a Muslim names goes against them. But we do have also a serious literacy problem, an unemployment issue among certain Muslim ethnic groups. So for instance, the Indian Muslims are a remarkable success story, whereas the Pakistani Muslims and the Somalian Muslims seem to be much, you know, they seem to be struggling, and the Yeminis, for instance, in the Birmingham context.
MAHMOODNow, the kind of work that I've been doing helps only to a certain degree. So what I'm doing is filling in a gap or a vacuum because up until now, they feel there is no narrative that connects them to Britain, yet many of their ancestors have fought for Britain in World War I and II, my own uncle being one of them who fought in Burma against the Japanese. Now, there are countless stories like that.
MAHMOODSo what we've not done to start off with is built that narrative for communities that have come over to Britain and had some course of integration early on. We're suffering as a result of that. But in terms of the future for some of the young people today, it is very difficult. It's looking bleak. And I'm very concerned that if it doesn't work out for some of them, some of them will look the other way and that could mean a whole heap of things to different people. And I wouldn't like to kind of pinpoint that.
MAHMOODBut in terms of radicalization, yes, it's a true process. Yes, it happens. It is very multi-faceted and I'm afraid there isn't one particular pill that's going to resolve it.
NNAMDIJahan Mahmood is a historian and researcher. He's been conducting seminars for young Muslims around British identities since 2005. Jonathan Githens-Mazer is co-director of the European-Muslim Research Center, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies at the University of Exeter. And Bob Leiken is director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Center for the National Interest in Washington D.C. He is author of the forthcoming book, "Europe's Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation," being published by Oxford University Press later this year.
NNAMDIGentlemen, thank you all for joining us. We've got to take a short break. When we come back, what the NCAA Final Four means, not only in terms of basketball, but in terms of money. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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