As a Roman Catholic boy who grew up in the deepest part
of Jewish Orthodox Stamford Hill in North London, and the only gentile in our
street, I got to see quite a bit about how integration works (and doesn't work)
My mental construct was further fortified by being
English in a Catholic school dominated by Irish immigrants, and then living in
the area long enough to see the Jamaicans moving in on the fringes, forming
their own communities.
Not content with that experience of seeing how immigrant
communities interact with their hosts, I then moved via certain way stations in
Yorkshire – and a year living in the Middle East - to my present address in
Bradford, where I have lived for over thirty years, observing the immigrant
community there – much of it Kashmiri, from the northwest reaches of the Indian
On top of that, I am a political researcher – with a
particular speciality in politico-military affairs, and wrote a book on the 2003
British occupation of southern Iraq. I then went on to research the
background to the Afghani war, studying not only the politics, but the tribal
and religious background.
None of that makes me an expert in a fiendishly complex
subject, but it certainly gives me a different perspective on issues such as the
Rotherham sex-slave scandal, and one that very much differs from that element of
the commentariat, who would attribute the affair to Islam.
As to the role of religion in such matters, I have
pondered at great length on this, and have come up with some observations which
would suggest to me that the causal factors are far more complex and subtle than
most would allow, which possibly make religion only an incidental and relatively
In the first instance, it is probably no coincidence that
the men involved in the Rotherham incident, and many of the other similar
incidents reported, were Pakistani, many of them actually
In this, there is an important but often understated
cultural heritage, based on the fact that these men come from tribal societies,
and not just "tribes" in the sense of a grouping of people. The particular tribal style here is
nomadic, which confers a particular style of governance which differs
substantially from the structure of "settled" tribes.
The relevance here is that the nomadic culture is more
egalitarian, as opposed to the settled tribes. The settled tribes often adopt
hierarchical structures, with powerful chiefs and councils of elders who exert a
degree of control and discipline which carries over into immigrant communities.
Those with nomadic origins lack this framework of community discipline and, as
immigrants, find themselves without effective societal
There is also legacy of the Raj here, where the British
colonial presence set white men as a superior caste, and their women – wives and
daughters – as unattainable presences is a society where mixed marriage and even
cohabitation was a social taboo. For Asian men in the home countries, therefore,
sexual relations with white women were nothing more than an unattainable
As immigrants into the UK, with weak societal
constraints, such men nevertheless found that tribal traditions prohibited
casual acquaintance with members of the opposite sex, in which context the
sexual mores of "liberalised" white women provided an easier means of attaining
When, as we see in these decaying northern towns, a
breakdown of family values and structures, as the old industries fade away and
any element of social cohesion fades away, the female children of dysfunction
families become easy prey to Asian men, seeking to fulfil their own
Into this potent mix, we then have the bizarre situation
which made this affair possible. At the very time when they were most needed,
the very mechanisms in the host country might have imposed discipline on
immigrant communities, and protected the weak and vulnerable, were themselves
coming under sustained attack.
Partly as an over-reaction to the institutionalised
racism of the '50s and '60s, local authorities – and partly because "race
relations" had become a lucrative industry, with Rotherham alone spending more
than £300,000 a year on employing diversity officers, public services and the
police came under enormous pressure not to discriminate against immigrant – and
especially coloured – communities.
Behaviour that would not be tolerated amongst the indigenous population was
thus given a free pass when perpetrated by Asians.
Into this, there was one final element which has scarcely
been recognised at all – the inadequacy of official complaints systems and the
inherent bias in the way complaints were treated.
As to police complaints, in the first instance,
accusations of racial discrimination are given high priority, while general
complaints – and those of failure to respond, are poorly handled, if at all.
The problem here is that complaints are handled
internally, with the police investigating themselves. But the appeal system, in
the event that the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome, is surreal. The
very same officers who carry out the initial investigations then review their
own work, to find that everything they did was entirely
For local authorities, formal complaints again are
investigated internally, where my own personal experience has shown that illegal
behaviour is ignored or glossed over and persistent complaints are met with a
blank refusal to act or even to answer correspondence. That leaves only the
local government ombudsman, staffed in the main by ex-local authority officials,
who mostly back up their former colleagues, against whose judgements there is no
Therein, actually lies the heart of the problem. If, when
a system goes off the rails, there is no mechanism for ordinary people to make
their concerns heard, or get action to be taken, we end up with a situation
where 1,400 vulnerable girls, over a period of 16 years, are sexually abused –
and no single official is brought to book.
But in all this, I have managed to offer a level of
analysis that has not factored Islam into the mix at any level. This is a religion which, for a variety
of complex reasons, is particularly attractive to nomadic tribes, and for the
same reason appeals to the dispossessed and rootless.
From my Bradford experience, on the other hand, we see
the emergence of a cultured, educated and often professional Asian middle class,
for whom fundamentalist Islam has no attractions. And shining like beacons from this
community are the women – intelligent, educated, liberated and independent,
often holding down demanding jobs in medicine, the law or other
For these women, the male-dominated tribal culture, where
they are supposed to be obedient chattels, is an anathema to them. Some Asian
men who – often with less developed nomadic backgrounds – are unable to deal
with these emancipated women. It is these who turn to fundamentalist Islam, a
losers' creed for inadequate men to are unable to deal with the demands of
A cultural offshoot that hates and fears its own women,
and then gets its sexual gratification from abusing the women of another race,
is a sterile creed that is going nowhere. It can destroy, it can cause endless
misery, but it cannot build or create. Hence, fundamental Islam is the religion
of losers. It is attractive to them because they were losers first, and can eke
out justification for their actions in an ancient script. It is not the cause of
their inadequacies. It is a symptom of them.
It survives and prospers, not because of its own
inadequacies, but because of ours.