Author: (ed.) Madeleine Bunting
Publisher: The Guardian in association with the Barrow Cadbury Trust
Release Date: August 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 40

Source: No longer available on the website

We are indebted to The Guardian, and one of the paper’s finest writers, Madeleine Bunting, for this timely collection of over twenty essays on themes of multiculturalism and the British Muslim identity. Since 9/11, The Guardian stands out as a newspaper that has encouraged the expression of a variety of views and interpretations on world events – an oasis of independent journalism and comment. The Guardian’s progressive instincts led it to play host to a Muslim youth forum in January 2005, at which 50 people were brought together and presented with some big questions on religious identity and ethnicity. The editor notes that “this book reflects this debate, giving space to the reflections of several of the participants and reprinting key contributions to this debate which have appeared on the Guardian’s comment pages”.

The book is essential reading for those seeking to dip their toe in the national conversation on Britishness or the future direction of a multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Britain. The essays are grouped around three themes: ‘What am I? The politics of identity’; ‘What are we? The politics of belonging’; ‘Habits of solidarity: the politics of living together’. Contributors include Tariq Modood, Paul Gilroy and Herman Ouseley, Gary Younge, Safraz Manzoor, Tariq Ramadan, Dilwar Hussain, Sunder Katalwal, Seaumus Milne, Polly Toynbee, Tinoth Garton Ash, Jonathan Freedland, Maleha Malik, Shareefa Fulat, Geoff Mulgan, Sukhvinder Stubbs, Tahir Abbas and Phoebe Griffiths, Ted Cantle, Ann Cryer, Azhar Hussain, Indra Adnan and Madeleine Bunting.

Memorable quotes:

“I am afraid what will happen to us Muslims now. I wonder if we can find a hole big enough to hide in” (Ajmal Masroor – comment after the London bombings of 7/7);

“One participant to the conference prefaced her remarks with the statement ‘I believe in God’. You could hear, in the quality of the silence in the room, the shock that religious belief is unapologetically trespassing into manstream debate for a generation. And it is triggering profound anxiety in the secular left….” (Madeleine Bunting);

“The emergence of a ‘politics of difference’ out of and alongside a liberal assimilationist equality created a disonance. Similarly, the emergence of a British Muslim identity out of and alongside ethno-racial identities has created an even greater dissonance because it challenges the hegemonic power of secularism in British political culture, especially on the centre-left” (Tariq Modood).