Alright, in the last few weeks, British television has shown on different channels the situation in Luton, the base of the English Defence League and also home to the largest proportion of Muslim people in the UK (from what I’ve understood, I don’t have the exact statistics).
I’m wading into the potential realm of me being labelled a racist or anything because people misinterpret what others say. What I mean is this – please keep your beliefs to yourself. Honestly, do whatever you like, but please don’t say that I should have to follow. Everyone is different, and so are people’s beliefs (which is partly why certain branches of Christianity and Islam so entirely piss me off). Leave people be.
Basically, for those who haven’t seen either My Home Town Fanatics or the Proud and Prejudiced, there’s essentially a war of protests happening within Luton between the far right wing English Defence League and Al-Muhajiroun (and the following daughter-groups following them being shut down). Two ignorant sides fighting their cause in the worst way.
During Stacey Dooley’s investigates programme, it hit me that I really don’t know much about the Muslim faith, and I don’t have well..any Muslim friends.I did, however tutor within several families in Edinburgh last year, and obviously the families aren’t any different to Christian, agnostic or atheist families apart from perhaps a couple of beliefs. Upon interviewing the family, they very politely asked that due to their beliefs, they’d like it if I covered my head. I explained that I would do this out of respect for their religion, clearly it’s their house, their rules.
I have no problem with religious people of exactly that type – those who practice at home or in their mosque. But in the streets of Luton, the extremists group lead by Sayful Islam preaches hate to all who walk past. Their group has been banned from the mosques around Bury Park, the main area of Luton where Muslim people live, showing that most of the population do not follow the same belief structure. Perhaps those who wish to follow the Al-Muhajiroun have misinterpreted their religious texts, I don’t know, I just know what I think about what they said to Stacey as she tried to have a conversation with them.
Other people have no right to tell you how to live your life. Britain should not introduce Shariah Law because not everyone in the country follows the Muslim faith. Those who do wish to follow the religion can be ruled by Shariah Law as they so wish, as long as it keeps within the confined of British law and the bill of human rights. Honestly, what people do behind their own front doors has nothing to do with me, so I wouldn’t say anything.
The protests on the streets of Luton in which a Muslim woman wearing a niqab told Stacey Dooley (who was wearing a maxi dress) that she “looked naked” and told her to “go home and put some clothes on” just showed the kind of intolerance that I honestly wish could be eradicated. Stacey didn’t have a go at her and tell her to remove the niqab with a similar judgemental tone. What do the people of England do when they see a Scotsman wandering around Edinburgh (probably going to a wedding or a rugby game, right enough) wearing a kilt or even full Highland dress? Maybe they look at him a little, but they don’t say anything. Wear what you like, do what you like, but don’t try to force your own personal beliefs on anyone else, it’s not your place.
Now in my own Guardian-loving, liberal, apparently hippy way I want to say that I just wish everybody could just get along. Multiculturalism in the UK has not failed, though in some communities, minority groups seem to remain separate, and that saddens me. I want my group of friends to be as diverse as the people on my university course – white, black, asian, religious, atheist, and for none of it to matter because we all just get along with a friendship based on common interests. Unfortunately it’s not, and I’ll deal with that.
In the words of someone in my forum – religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around, And PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my or my (hypothetical) children’s thoats. I assume she stole that from somewhere, but it’s pretty true. I’m not about to chastise a Catholic person for having a belief system when I myself am an atheist.
It’s all about tolerance, man.