The Oxford English dictionary describes the usage of the word ‘Asian’ as follows:
“In Britain Asian is generally used to refer to people who come from (or whose parents came from) India, Pakistan, or elsewhere in South Asia”.
If the British press are anything to go by, this country is plagued by attacks committed by ‘Asians’. Some commentators have claimed that by identifying the perpetrators as Asians, the press are being racist. But, at first glance at least, they are merely reporting the facts – if they didn’t reveal the extent of ‘Asian crime’, then how could we possibly look into identifying the causes that make crimes committed by this subsection of the population so common?
But, of course, there is a problem. Asia is big; taking up, as it does, 30% of the surface of the globe, and with a population of approximately 3,879,000,000. Can we really trace criminal behaviour back to the cultural attitudes of so massive and diverse a place? What more do we really learn about crime (and about the possible ways of combating it) by identifying the perpetrators as Asian? Not a lot.
So why do they do it? Well, there’s still the defence that it’s merely descriptive. As the dictionary example illustrates, the usage of the term Asian has narrowed in this country so that it generally refers to those of Indian or Pakistani heritage. But this is still a huge number of people and, crucially, it refers to a huge number of different cultures and beliefs. Ethnicity can only ever be used to understand the causes of crime if there is a clear link between someone’s ethnic background and the culture that they grow up in, the beliefs that they have, and the situation that they find themselves in – all potential causes for an increased crime rate. If ethnicity is not shown to be linked to these things, then linking it to crime is most certainly racist, because it amounts to saying little more than ‘people of this ethnicity are criminals’, without looking into why there may be this correlation.
The question then becomes, ‘are there shared cultural practices, beliefs or common circumstances that could help to explain this supposed pandemic of Asian crime?’ As we’ve seen from the recent riots, where the vast majority of the perpetrators appear to have been black and from poorer neighbourhoods, supposing that ‘Asian crime’ is a problem because Asian communities are uniquely disadvantaged would appear to be nonsense. As for culture, how many different cultures exist in South Asia? And how many different ways are there of defining these different cultures? There are ancient tribal cultures, there is the caste system, there are cultures specific to the countries of the region – specifically India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – and there are religions – namely Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam.
All these factors can affect behaviour, but given the current context (the perpetrators of certain crimes – specifically acts of terrorism – continually themselves pointing to Islam as their inspiration and supposed justification), would it not be incredibly naive and irresponsible not to at least consider the possibility of their being a link between ‘Asian’ crime and an ideology that we know to be used as a justification for some of the most serious of these crimes? Is it not even feasible that radical Islam could help to explain why the press find it so easy to report on crimes committed by ‘Asians’?
Let’s hit the nail on the head. Asian crime is a lie. It doesn’t exist. Not only does the ethnicity of the perpetrators mean little to nothing (and suggesting otherwise would certainly be racist), but there are very good reasons for supposing than very often when the media say Asian, they really mean Muslim.
We do not mean to demonise Muslims; instead we wish to fairly and evenly consider why there is a problem with Muslim crime, and why the media are so loathe to report it. In fact, hiding the correlation between Islam and certain types of crime behind a largely meaningless correlation between ‘Asians’ and these crimes is far more likely to breed resentment and misunderstanding than actually shining a light on the true root of the problem. While there are undoubtedly many culture and circumstantial factors that do affect crime statistics, it is our contention that radical Islam is a major contributing factor and has, at yet, been woefully under-considered.
Consider the ‘no go zones’, ‘Sharia control zones’, or would-be ‘Islamic areas’ reported in the press – do these indicate a problem with the Asian community (however defined) or with the Muslim community? It is clearly the latter. Tower Hamlets, Bury Park in Luton – both examples where radical Islam has a stranglehold. Where is this true of radical Hinduism or radical Sikhism? Nowhere – because these things do not exist. As Tommy has said at our demonstrations, there is no problem with Sikh youth, and there is no problem with Hindu youth, and yet these people are unfairly grouped together under the word ‘Asian’. No one would claim that all members of the Muslim community are a threat to this country – most are decent people, and some even support the EDL – but the Muslim community as a whole does need to address a wide range of problems. It is not enough to point to a handful of ‘radicals’ because Islam in Britain has far more deep-rooted flaws. As we’ve said before, Islam needs to change. But it’s hardly going to do that if the media portray the problem as being not about religion but about ethnicity, and if they continue to tar all ‘Asian’ communities with the same brush.
The importance of identifying Islam as a major contributing factor is demonstrated by the arrests for child-grooming that have recently swept across the country. We’ve heard claims before that we cannot be so confident that the perpetrators are Muslims, and that it’s ‘racist’ to contend that they are. Unfortunately we do not make the facts. Since 1997, 56 men have been found guilty of rape, child abduction, indecent assault and sex with a child. 50 of those were Muslims. And yet in this article, where this statistic is reported, the headline still refers to an ‘Asian sex gang’. If we’re to prevent these terrible crimes from occurring then we need to be honest about who is committing them and which ideologies they ascribe to. This article really should have referred to a ‘Muslim sex gang’ – that would be the truth, and that would have helped us to understand why the crimes were committed.
For example, we’ve explained before how the example of Islam’s prophet Mohammed (that all Muslims are supposed to follow) sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. Combine this with the hostility that is too often to be found in British Mosques and which is spread by radicals that the government has as yet failed to confront, and you reach the ghastly conclusion that many Muslim men see little wrong with applying the example of the prophet (sex with young children) to those who they regard as ‘dirty kuffar’ (non-Muslims, not worthy of the same rights as Muslims under the Sharia – Islamic Law).
This is only a quick sketch of this dangerous part of radical Islamic ideology, but if any of this is new to the reader then it just demonstrates how little the media and politicians have been willing to discuss the very real threat that radical Islam poses not just to our country and its people, but to the Muslim community as well. How can the Muslim community be expected to deal with these problems when the wider community is largely ignorant of them?
Referring to these criminals as Asians may well be technically correct, but it’s also Politically Correct. And that is a large part of the problem, because anyone who deviates from ‘the official line’ can expect to be the victim of the most vile abuse, be it screams of ‘Nazi’ or ‘Racist’, or having to face the prospect of being diagnosed with the deadly (and seemingly contagious) ‘Islamophobia’.
The examples of Politically Correct journalism are plentiful, but this example stands out. A young girl of 15 was the victim of a sexual assault in St Albans, and her attacker is described as follows:
“He has short, dark hair and was wearing traditional white Asian clothing with a traditional white raised Asian hat and a very strong Asian accent.”
Traditional white Asian clothing? A traditional white raised Asian hat? A very strong Asian accent? The suspect even had a large “bushy beard”, making it difficult for it to be any less obvious that he was a practicing Muslim. So why are the press so afraid of using the word? Perhaps we’re leveling criticism at the wrong people. Perhaps this is less a case of Politically Correct journalism as it is lazy journalism. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if the description given was one prepared by the police, and that the journalist simply hasn’t joined the dots. We can almost understanding the police not wanting to immediately leap to the conclusion that their suspect was a Muslim, given that nowadays they’re likely to be too terrified of being accused of racism to actually give an accurate report of the situation on the ground.
And for this we have to blame the Government. Given the rioting that has erupted nationwide we can but hope that lessons will be learned, and that the police will soon regain the confidence they need to actually deal with crime. But there are still serious flaws in the way that the Government views the threat posed by radical Islam. Only recently, the Government struggled to deport a radical preacher with a record of raising funds for terrorists, inciting violence against Jews, and claiming that homosexuality would cause the collapse of society and must be stopped. Perhaps even more shockingly, this was a man who Labour MPs were not only due to share a platform with, but were happy to defend.
It would seem that even some MPs are shockingly ignorant about radical Islam or that they believe, erroneously, that the best way to tackle it is to engage with its supporters whilst keeping the public in the dark about the scale of the problem. How else can we explain the obsession with referring to ‘Asian’ crime?
Official figures show that the ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims in prison is more than four times higher than those of the population at large – not ‘Asian‘, but Muslim. But when the Government reports crime statistics it very often includes non-Muslim Asians under the category of ‘Asian crime’. Thus, the Chinese community in particular faces the unfair stigma of being associated with crimes that they did not commit. This country has a growing Sikh population which also fears the same type of misrepresentation. Sikhs form another community that, along with the Muslim community, is distinguished by its particular religious beliefs and customs. But there have never been any problems with Sikh integration in this country. This is not simply a matter of numbers, for Sikhs have shown an impressive willingness to integrate, to accept the laws of the land, and to confront and defeat any form of extremism.
Sikhs, Hindus, and all manner of smaller religious groups have their own identities of which they are immeasurably proud – as too do Muslims. Combining all of these distinct communities into one catch-all term would be insulting even if one of these groups was not responsible for crimes that give all of ‘the Asian community’ a bad name. These distinct communities deserve to be treated as such. Referring only to ‘Asians’ is not only grossly unfair, but risks creating artificial divisions where none have existed previously.
Where divisions do exist, and where there are clear problems affecting a specific community, it is important that policy-makers recognise which shared cultural practices, beliefs and common circumstances make a community distinct, as well as determining where they need to accommodate and where they need to criticise and aid reform.
The overwhelmingly well-educated, prosperous and well-integrated Indian community has very different needs to the comparatively provincial, poor, and insular Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. Add to that a growing assertiveness by British Hindus and Sikhs and the term ‘Asian’ is clearly inadequate to describe the realities.
Sarfraz Manzoor, writer and presenter of the BBC’s ‘Don’t call me Asian’ illustrates exactly that point:
“No longer can we say the interests of Sikhs and Hindus are the same as those of all British Asians. The government, will, at some point have to formulate more specific and targeted legislation, not just for all Asians but for specific strands within.”
This is typical of the response from these non-Muslim Asian communities. They do believe that they’re being mistreated, but they don’t shout about it at every opportunity – they don’t take to the streets and burn flags, they don’t threaten to kill journalists, and they don’t stab MPs – instead, they contribute to the debate.
But the Government and the media so often pay them no heed, instead spending most of their efforts telling us to remember that most Muslims are decent people. This sends out completely the wrong message. The people of Britain do not need to be patronised. Despite what some politicians may claim, Britain is still a very tolerant society, and accepting that Islam in Britain is deeply flawed and needs to change would not result in the victimisation of Britain’s Muslims. On the other hand, claiming that Islam has a unique claim to being ‘the religion of peace’, demonising anyone who might claim otherwise, and ignoring the legitimate concerns of ordinary people is exactly the sort of thing that will breed resentment.
Luckily, this disastrous approach has not led to widespread attacks on Muslims. Instead it has led to the birth of the world’s largest street protest movement. A movement that is committed to peaceful protest, anti-extremism, anti-racist, anti-fascism, and support for our democratic institutions.
We campaign against radical Islam, not all Muslims.
But it would be foolish to believe that radicalism exists only in the heads of a few crazed zealots. Radicalism is a problem, a problem that uniquely affects the Muslim Community. And there should be no stigma attached to simply identifying that fact.