EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – A "ghettoization" of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom and across many European countries is a barrier to full assimilation, Dr. Farid Senzai of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a leading US-based think tank, told Sputnik Friday.
“Muslims have integrated more fully in the United States and are not as ghettoized as they are in many European countries,” Senzai, who has closely studied the integration of Muslims in the United States and drawn comparisons to the process in Europe, said.
The academic’s comments follow a joint statement issued Wednesday by a large number of prominent Muslims in the United Kingdom who accuse the government of waging a McCarthyite witch-hunt against the 2-million Muslim community in Britain.
Many of the individual signatories and organizations who have signed the statement, which accuses British ministers of “criminalizing” Islam, are controversial figures, while one of the supporting organizations, Hizb ut-Tahrir, is banned in some European countries.
“This is an unfortunate chain of events as the Muslim community in the UK becomes increasingly disenfranchised,” Senzai told Sputnik in reaction to seeing the statement.
Meanwhile, Mazhar Khan, Secretary of the Muslim Council for Scotland, told Sputnik that his representative umbrella organization had chosen not to sign the statement on this occasion and dismissed claims the Muslim community were not doing enough to integrate fully into British society.
“When people say Muslims haven’t integrated, how do you measure this?” Khan said.
“There was a report that came out last week from the Muslim Council of Britain based on census data highlighting that 80 to 90 per cent of Muslims were proud to be British and regarded themselves as British,” Khan told Sputnik.
In Khan's opinion, part of the problem lays in different interpretations of what ‘integration’ and ‘assimilation’ meant in practical terms.
“The terms assimilation means different things for different people. Assimilation and integration can be used interchangeably without any regard to what the specific objective is. We expect Muslims to be integrated into the societies in which they live and there is no issue with that,” Khan added.
A report by the University of Essex published in 2012 highlighted a significant difference in how non-Muslim British people perceived Muslims and how Muslims perceived themselves.
The study found 83 per cent of Muslims are proud to be British compared to 79 per cent of the general UK population. The research also highlighted that 86.4 percent of Muslims felt a sense of belonging in Britain, a figure slightly higher than the 85.9 per cent of Christians feeling the same way.