9.2 The growth of ‘Londonistan’ and domestic terrorist activity
One prominent view of the problems of multiculturalism focuses on the concentration of jihadi activists in certain parts of contemporary Britain. This is outlined in British journalist and broadcaster Melanie Phillips’s book Londonistan.
She expresses a view widely held in many sectors of British society that parts of the country have, over the past few decades, become dominated by immigrant groups and in some cases dramatically Islamised. Districts of London have thus taken on the appearance of a ‘Londonistan’ and similar developments have taken place in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham (p34–35). In the wake of 9/11 and 7/7, this has given rise to different perceptions of the behaviour of immigrant communities and become strongly. The language used by Phillips conveys this sense of threat in several ways. For example, she sees religious dress as ‘outlandish’ and conveying a sense of antagonism, provoking ‘insecurity and unease’, not least because of the possibility it might offer of ‘deliberate concealment’ and thus develop into a ‘security issue’ (p33–34).
Another aspect of this development is the way in which London ‘has become a major global centre of Islamist extremism’ and a centre for the promulgation of extreme forms of politicised Islam that have been espoused by known terrorists (p36–42). While decrying these developments in themselves, Phillips is also strongly critical of ‘the supine response by the British establishment’ that allowed this to happen and has since been widely understood to have been a major security error. Phillips’ perceptions and the tone of her account are certainly different from some of the other readings presented in this course, which focus on diverse media concerns. You might want to consider Phillips’ perceptions alongside those reported by al-Ghabban in Section 8. There young Londoners (British Bengali Muslims and non-religious white English school students) were conscious of a British government determination to promote the notion of a terrorist threat and a media determination both to demonise Muslims and emphasise the violent implications of the Muslim faith and its prescriptions. You should not forget, of course, that Melanie Phillips is herself a ‘media person’.
Activity 41 Londonistan
Please read the extract from this book now and consider the following questions:
- What does Phillips identify as ‘one of the most striking features of Britain today’?
- What is the ‘bizarre fact’ about the British authorities’ response to the existence of extremist activity she draws attention to?
- What general conclusions does Phillips draw from the growth of ‘Londonistan’?
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