Pulse Media


Failure of British integration model?

Here is an article by Timothy Garton Ash and my response below.

Your comments are more than welcom. As usual.

Mr Ash,

I sincerely hope you read this. I would have rather written to you personally, because this is a very important issue for me, but you don't see to have a contact address. Never mind. Other people will be able to read my comments, which is always good.

I am Franco-British, was brought up in England and France, went to university in Scotland and now live in France. I don't wish to seem arrogant, but I think I have a good viewpoint on the differences between the two countries, cultures and systems.
I read your recent article on the 'failure' of the British model of integration in which you compared it to the French Rebublicanist model. I read it first in French.
I think it's great you bring up questions. After all, that's your job as a historian, a journalist. I must react, however, because despite the closeness of Britain and France, geographically as well as politically and culturally, there seem to be a lot of misunderstandings on both sides.
You are quite right, I believe, when you say one reason the recent discontent of the muslim population of Britain is that Blair has allied our country to the US in the 'war on terror'. I think it is the main reason. Given, I have not spent enough time, especially recently, in Britain to define all the reasons for the difficult 'race relations', but you just have to look at the history of 'terrorist' attacks in Britain: 7/7 was the first and last 'islamic' attack on British soil. We are much more used to Irish republican and British army (in Ulster) 'terrorism'. France, on the other hand has experienced several 'islamic terrorist' attacks, dating back over twenty years. France has also experienced 'race riots' far more recently than Britain.
I don't think the idea, that British muslims place their religion above their nationality makes them less integrated than French muslims. That is the nature of Britain it seems. Many Scots will call themselves Scottish before British. As do many Welsh. On the other hand, many Asians might choose to call themselves British rather than English, Scottish, Welsh or N.Irish. I believe, as you apparently did, that the British 'vagueness' is a good thing.
You probably have more insight into the situation in Britain than I do, but is it not true, that the 'deterioration' in 'race relations' you mention is a recent problem? I think accusing the 'British model' is to deflect attention from the responsibility of Blair and his pals in angering British muslims, even if you do mention this.
What I can assure you, is that French muslims are not integrated, definitely no more than British muslims. They may be assimilated, but that's hardly the same thing. You just have to compare the media and popular culture in both countries. The dearth of arab (or other minority) representation in those areas in France compared with Britain is...well sickening!

I hope this comes to your attention, and I would sincerely like to have your reaction.

All the best,