Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Leicester's joyful multiculturalism

The Daily Mirror yesterday ran an article extolling the virtues of multiculturalism in Leicester. Two people were interviewed; one was an elderly Sikh, Sukhdev Sangha. The article writes of Mr. Sangha:

Every day for the last 40 years, Sukhdev Sangha has watched the world go by from the window of his corner shop in Leicester.
And as he looks out onto the busy street today, the 67-year-old can hardly believe how things have changed.
One of the first immigrants to arrive in the city after coming from the Punjab in 1967, the Sikh stood out as one of the only faces of colour in a sea of white.
He and his wife were stared at as they walked down the street and he was barred from the first job he applied for – as a bus conductor – because he wore a turban.

But today people of every hue, every religion, pass by his shop window – and in every 10 faces, maybe one is white.

“And I believe multiculturalism has made Leicester a better place,” he says.

One has to wonder if a white person might not encounter 'a sea of brown' in his native India? Perhaps he couldn't get a job as a bus conductor because they wore regulation headgear; why did Mr. Sangha insist on wearing a turban, which was not part of the uniform?

Only 1 person in 10 is white, and Mr. Sangha appears to believe this has made Leicester "a better place"? Wouldn't there be consternation if the reverse were so in India, African countries, or Israel? Mind you, his shop is in Belgrave Rd. - an Indian enclave. I wonder why white Britons deserted the area, most weren't exactly affluent.

Mr. Sangha believes Leicester is better for multiculturalism; does he not know that the city was the second richest in Europe in the 50s. Look at it now. Everyone I know avoids the place; they find the atmosphere threatening and hostile, and dirty and crumbling too. Quite unlike the smart, friendly and industrious city we once knew and loved.

The Mirror remarks:

New estimates suggest children from white families are now in a minority in the city, making up only 47% of the under-16 population.

Leicester is set to become Britain’s first plural city, where no ethnic group will form a majority, by 2019, with Birmingham expected to follow five years later.

It is something Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz welcomes.

He said: “Leicester’s diversity and successful integration is a mark of its confidence in itself. Our communities have always got along with one another.”

Why does Keith Vaz (who is heartily disliked even by many in his own constituency) welcome the decline of a white majority in a white country, for that is what it amounts to? And once upon a time, we were a community, Mr. Vaz. Not disparate communities. One community. Disproving your contention of integration.

Stan Samuel is the second resident to have his say.

Stan Samuel, 48, runs the One Voice Young People’s Centre, a meeting place for the city’s youth of any ethnic group which – ironically given Cameron’s speech calling for greater integration of different groups – is under threat because of Government cuts.

Stan says Leicester folk are proud of how people of so many different backgrounds co-exist, although he believes the city has a long way to go before it can boast of being truly integrated.

Stan, whose parents came here from the West Indies in the 1960s, says: “You may come to the city centre and see an equally balanced mixture of every different group, but most will live almost exclusively with their own people.”

Stan's group, though admirable, is probably under threat because the Rates, now called Council Tax, were never meant to pay for all these groups. Volunteers, doing it for free, were the order of the day once. But I wouldn't worry, it's far more likely that the cuts will fall on libraries and old folks' centres.
Actually, Stan sounds a bit more grounded in his views. He obviously gets around a bit more than Mr. Sangha, though at least Sikhs, Hindus and West Indians will go for a pint and most seem to have a sense of humour.

What really puzzles me about this article is that no muslim was interviewed. Did they all refuse to speak to the journalist? Would it have contradicted the essence of the article maybe? Surely the reporter could have found one muslim prepared to speak of his joy at integrating with the Leicester community? No? Fancy that.

The complete article may be read HERE

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