According to this BBC poll:
"Thinking about your nationality, to what extent do you feel British?"
73% of "Whites" answered "Completely/ A lot",
77% of Sikhs answered "Completely/ A lot"
Almost two/thirds of "Asians", as a whole, answered the same way.
I reckoned at the time that, all things considered, it was pretty good news.
I’ve just finished reading Yahya Birt’s article here, which deals more specifically with how Muslims in the United Kingdom feel about their national identity:
It is now a commonplace to observe that “Britishness” and “Muslimness” have become polarised: by seeking definitions against “the Muslim threat”, “true” Britishness, it is felt, can be retrieved.
Yet the evidence shows the opposite: most of Britain’s ethnic groups emphasize both religious and national identities together, a trend most noticeable among Muslim Britons. Polling usually confirms that Muslims are comfortable in being Muslim and British, antagonism only arising when slanted questioning asks respondents to choose one over the other.
The last point is an important one and is one which is not limited to simply how Muslims and their Britishness is being regarded; the goal of Celtic and English nationalism appears presently to be the same narrowing of our choice of identity- in their nil-sum arena, we can’t be English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh and British and in the modern, globalised interconnected and cosmopolitan world such restrictions of choice, whether on the grounds of religion or national identity, are outdated and parochial. If Unionism is to succeed in its ultimate goal, it must firstly stop and reverse this present narrowing of the goalposts.
And after Byrne’s cack-handed attempts last week, Birt’s ideas on how we should look at our collective Britishness, whilst a bit short on specifics, also make much sense:
A better approach, perhaps, is to commit to an open-ended conversation about how to define what we Britons have in common, as well as seeing in cultural diversity a source of wisdom, and an opportunity to expand the wellsprings of our collective imaginations. The distinctive contribution of Muslims to national self-understanding will be but one strand among many. With all the suspicion levelled at Muslims today, it takes intellectual and moral courage to remain creative and self-aware enough to ponder our shared future while retaining a sense of faithful integrity.
"Britishness" really does not need to be defined in the way which Labour and elements of the media are attempting to do; such definitions necessarily narrow and limit and so play directly into the hands of the various nationalists. Best of all that we think of and promote it as an ever-changing mosaac, one comprising of a multitude of creeds, cultures, ethnicities and identities; one which ”in our global age” is informed by "“rooted cosmopolitanism”, a principled looking out at the challenges and opportunities of the world from our home, while never losing a sense of who or where we are."
*Via Our Kingdom*