whereislondon
whereislondon
whereislondon
Eight geotag journalists exploring your city. This week: Contrasting London.

London’s multiculturalism model

By Laura Geisswiller

Every year the Islamic Society at the Univeristy of Westminster organises the “Islam Awareness Week” in an attempt to make people more aware of their religion.

Meetings are set up in order to help initiate a dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims.

This week is one of several events organised around the city.

After the 9/11 attacks in the US and the 7/7 bomb attacks in London, the Muslim community is aware that they need to inform the public of their faith to help steer people’s opinions away the ideas shaped by the tabloid newspapers.

Does it work?

In the Hugg Theatre around fifty people, including non-muslims, are listening to Dr Khalid Al-Fikry speaking about Allah.

Its more a sermon than an informative lecture, Al-Fikry describes the power of Allah during the hour long talk.

“I came because I wanted to support the Islamic Society,” explain Jade from the Student Union. She adds, “I think the conference is a good idea but they should work harder and try to open it for non-Muslim, it still much for believers."

City of contrast

Considered as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Londoners encounter contrast everyday.

Days after the conference, near the site of the conference at Liverpool St. Station, around fifteen English Defence League (EDL) supporters demonstrate and intimidate people on the street.

Considered fascist, the EDL is a right-far party, which has one target "Extremist Muslim".

Despite always denying the accusation of targeting Muslims, their leader Tommy Robinson, doesn't mind explaining his disappointment when new mosques are created in his town, Luton. (his speech).

Differences

In a liberal city such as London, it can be difficult for people of different faiths to coexist, but it is mostlly a problem of expression. How can people clearly articulate their ideas without alienating people with different beliefs?

At the conference, Al-Fikry explained that "the kingdom of a women is the house" and she should "remain loyal to her husband" and stay focused on her family.

"I understand that can shock the non-believers, but it is our faith,” explains one organiser who prefers to remain anonymus.

What he wanted to say was not that women shouldn't work but that ‘our family should remain our priority’, and it is true for both men and women.

Jade, a feminist, explains her surprise to the speech: “Sometimes you can see a gap with some believers.”

She was against the speech delivered at the lecturer but says precisely: “I know a lot of Muslims who don't share this value and the next generation will also bring some changes".

Is Multiculturalism failing?

Although Prime Minister David Cameron explained at the Security Conference in Munich how multiculturalism had failed in the UK, London remains a desirable model of integration.

Paul Kelly from the London School of Economics explains that because the country is an island, it is used to seeing a lot of different cultures come in and go out.

And even if extremists will continue to oppose and provoke different groups, the problem will remain marginal as the factions are small. Today, Mulsims can go shopping and work without any problems.

Jade concludes by saying, "I continue to think that we don't mix enough, we stay in our communities and don’t socialize. Leave aside the Muslims, there are other communities that we don't know. We have a lot to bring to each other."

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