Racial segregation rising in Britain

I was both disturbed and disappointed to see reports in both the Guardian and the Telegraph suggesting that there is an increase in racial segregation in Britain.

Actually, such a sweeping statement is unfair. Both papers acknowledge that the academic study (by geographers at Macquarie University in Sydney) recognises that many ‘white’ areas have now been ‘infiltrated’ (for want of a much better word!), big cities like London remain very cosmopolitan, and that ‘blacks’ (by which, I assume they mean africans and afro-carribeans) don’t seem to be segregated.

But the fact is that ‘asians’ (by which they mean those of indian sub-continental ethnic origin) are living in increasingly large segregated communities. The study claims that in places like Bradford, Oldham and Leicester, with large ethnic Bengali, Indian and Pakistani populations, racial segregation is almost as bad as the ‘black’ ghettos in dividied American big cities like Miami and Chicago.

To my mind it is no surprise that the big cities where there is a rise in segregation are the very same places which suffered race riots in the not-too-distant past. It is understandable, when racial communities feel threatened, that they seek comfort and safety through closer proximity to each other. Yet the irony is that such segregation creates opportunities for extremeists of all kinds as divided communities do not learn to live with each other.

The far-right British National Party has had recent electoral success exploiting the fears and uncertainties of working class people in underprivileged and divided areas (why is that poverty so often seems to go hand in hand with racial discord?). And whatever the truth behind the fuss over his video statement it cannot be ignored that Mohammad Sidique Khan, alleged ring-master of the 7 July London bombers, came from such a Pakistani ‘ghetto’ near Leeds.

Polticians can pass new laws and spend countless billions on unneccessary identity card initiatives in the name of fighting terrorism. But really government has to remember to deal with the causes of terrorism and other criminal activities, not just manage the symptoms. What they need to wake up to is a recognition that there in many parts of Britain, there is a big need to re-build communities, to provide meaningful education and employment opportunities. There is no excuse for extremism and it must be dealt with harshly. That does not, however, excuse government from looking after its citizens by treating the cancerous divisions in society that serve only to ferment further discord and act as a breeding ground for evil.

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