The Corner

Multiculturalism Watch

Johann Hari on a disturbing cultural clash in the East End of London:

“Brick Lane is a glorious streak of neon and curry, of clubbers and fundamentalists, of old Jewish immigrant stories and new Muslim ones, in the guts of the East End. It is my home, and over the past week I have been sharing it with a little news story – and with another small sign that free speech in Britain is slowly sandpapered down by reactionary mini-mobs. It begins with one of the most tender and beautiful British novels I know. Monica Ali’s ‘Brick Lane’ is the almost Victorian story of one woman’s liberation. Nasneen is an eighteen year-old girl shipped over from Bangladesh to London’s Bangla-Town, to marry an obese forty year old she has never met…She is discouraged from learning English or from ever leaving the house. She has been taught to be limp and passive all her life – “we are women, what can we do?” her mother always asked. She is kept drugged by superstition, told constantly it would be a sin against God to rebel. But slowly, Nasneen realises “she could not wait for the future to be revealed, but had to make it for herself”. She learns English. She learns to ice-skate. She has an affair with a beautiful young man. She even begins to develop a more liberal strain of Islam, rejecting the dogmatic literalism of the men around her…When the BBC decided to make this into a film, they naturally wanted to shoot on Brick Lane itself – and the troubles began. A small number of Bengali men were enraged by Ali. A woman – a woman! – had dared to take the rest of us on an intimate tour of the Bengali community. She had even tried, in her subtle, tender way, to incite a rebellion of Muslim women, to encourage them to become Nasneems and discover the joy of being free-thinking sexual women rather than being terrorised into tethered livestock hiding in cloth-prisons. They organised demonstrations to halt the filming, to shut up this uppity b*tch once and for all. Their meetings talked of burning the book and of burning her…The logic of multiculturalism has made it hard for these thugs to be challenged. Multiculturalism treats immigrant communities as homogenous blocks, represented by elderly, reactionary “community spokesmen”.”

Read the whole thing. It’s as fascinating as it is ominous…

Hat-tip: Reason

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