Thursday 2 December 2021
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Birmingham: Bellweather For Bleak Future

But it's not a story of Britain alone. Closer home we have seen this played out in Kashmir, for example.

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Ramesh Venkatramanhttps://rameshvenkatram.wordpress.com/
Management professional with over two decades of experience in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, educational, and development domains; writer, educator, leadership expert and management and brand consultant. He publishes his leadership podcasts at: https://open.spotify.com/show/1JtD8pODEnyprXD1NXYj0H

A short 5-minute video from One American News Network (below) shared across social media, claimed that in UK’s most multicultural city, Birmingham, native Brits were on their way to becoming a minority in their “own homeland”. Immigrants from Africa and the Middle East and Pakistan, in particular, had converted parts of Birmingham into no-go zones — places where non-Muslims are not welcome. The video claims further that the city has become the capital of jihad in England with one in ten of Britain’s convicted Islamic terrorists coming from Birmingham. Governments have refused to get involved or take action because they fear being called racists. In fact, they brush the problem of jihad under the carpet of multiculturalism. Murders, violence, child-grooming, rapes of minor school-age girls have seen a massive spike claimed the video. The video ends with a dire warning that native white Brits would become a minority in their own country by 2050 and that unchecked immigration of people who refuse to integrate with the culture of the host country needs to be stopped before it is too late.

This article examines the veracity of the claims above and attempts to provide a framework to understand why these issues crop up with a particular minority or immigrant group and why this group refuses to integrate with the culture of the country that has provided them refuge.  

Tipping Point & Dictatorship Of Minority

In his bestselling book “The Tipping Point” [1]The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference author Malcolm Gladwell talks of how small actions and events at opportune moments, in the right context and place, with the right amount of pressure and when applied on and with the right people can create a “tipping point” This tipping point can be created for anything — from a product to an idea to a trend to even social and cultural changes. The “tipping point” as a concept is fairly common in management literature. It refers to that defining moment when an idea, trend or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips over, and starts to spread like wildfire — product adoption and brand success is almost always a function of such tipping points. However, the tipping point works in the opposite direction too. A series of small developments, unattended issues, festering problems and a determined push by a small but closely-held tribal group can tip the order of things. This is the law of the few and Gladwell posits…

The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Skin in the Game[2]Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life Kindle Edition wrote about something similar, the phenomenon of a small but determined and ideologically-driven minority that can and does have its own way in ensuring that the entire majority succumbs and submits to its way and diktats. He calls it the “Dictatorship of a small minority”. This minority behaves in such an intransigent manner that right from the time that it reaches even a minuscule minority of say 4-5%, this group can pressure other sections of society and make even governments bend such that the entire population submits to their preferences. He cites the example of how halal meat has become mainstreamed and that almost all of the meat or at least a very high proportion of meat available in a country like the United Kingdom is halal-certified and then he points to how close to 70% of lamb imports from New Zealand are halal-compliant. Now, New Zealand is not really a Muslim-majority country, is it? The population of Muslims in New Zealand is a minuscule: 1.3%. What then explains this desire to cater to the minority? The answer lies in the fact that this determined minority will never ever change its preferences. The silent majority, on the other hand, either out of fear, or a lack of interest, or lack of self-preservation skills, will not challenge the minority-choice and, in not challenging those choices and then submitting to the will of the minority, the majority sets a trend that becomes normal across the country and spreads to other parts of the world as well.

We are looking at these two theoretical frameworks here because we are going to use them to understand what is happening in Birmingham and then argue how Birmingham is the bellwether of things to come across large parts of the world.

Birmingham Undergoing Demographic Upheaval Changing Very Face Of Britain

A look at the religious denominations of the United Kingdom shows that Christianity remains the major religion in the United Kingdom at about 56%. However, 32% of the population refuses to state their religion or more likely did not follow any religion. Islam, though only at 5% of the population, is not only the second-largest religious denomination within Britain (see chart below), but also the fastest-growing religion in Britain.[3]“The fastest growing religion in Birmingham revealed — and it may surprise you”, Birmingham Live, 10 April 2019[4]Church of England in decline, Islam fastest growing in UK: Survey, The Times of India, 2 June 2015

Birmingham, the second-largest city in England on the other hand is a different story. While Christians continue to be the largest religious denomination in Birmingham city (38%), they are barely holding on to this edge and, in fact, if current trends continue, they will soon be a minority. Muslims make up about 27% of the population while those who refused to identify themselves with any religion make up 30%. Another interesting data point is that while the Muslim population is growing, the numbers of all other denominations including Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Christian numbers are dropping. The Muslim population of Birmingham has grown by 22% during the period 2011-2018.

As early as 1987, Daniele Joly[5]“Making a Place for Islam in British Society: Muslims in Birmingham” by Daniele Joly, Research Papers in Ethnic Relations No. 4, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, writing in the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations Arts, highlighted and traced the growth of Islam in Birmingham, pointing out that “…ideological tenets, the main issues of concern for Muslims living in the non-Muslim country and their efforts to make inroads into British institutions…illustrates how a place for Islam is being made within British society.”

She points to how Islam and Muslims arrived in Britain in large numbers initially as a response to the need for labour in a severely damaged post- economy. At first, no one took notice of the slow but steady creep of the newer religion and its culture. Muslims started to build and establish their own institutions and increasingly started to believe and demand that their religious status should be protected and recognized.  As Joly points out, it was not just the predominance of other religions that prompted Muslims to come together but also a desire to safeguard their Islamic way of life in the wake of the steady ‘secularisation’ of British society.

Here, one sees how a determined and small minority had started to come together to safeguard and press for their “rights” This is how the tipping point is reached and also how a minority-dictatorship plays out.

It is interesting and very pertinent to note that when Joly embarked on this study, the population of Muslims in England was 0.07% but, in a matter of 30 odd years, they have grown to almost 6%. The Muslim population at that time in Birmingham city was 8% today they are almost at 30%

Coming back to the details of the study, as things progressed apace, more and more mosques started to surface in Birmingham, many without even permission from the authorities and most of them nothing more than converted houses and shelters at best. Then slowly but steadily bigger mosques started to appear and mosques became not just places of religion but also a place for community gatherings, discussion and education for children on the Qur’an and so on. Then a college for imams was established with the mandate of producing indigenous (that is British) imams. The need for imams and religious leaders to have a working knowledge of English was recognised. The multiplication of mosques in Birmingham today is a testimony to the success of this policy.

Another trend is the ghettoisation — concentrated pockets where the tribal dynamics of the in-group would keep out the out-group. Grocery shops, clothes shop and all of those things that would cater to the minority were established. A significant change was the establishment of Islamic Banks.

All of these things, although small, slowly pushed the ball up the slope to the tipping point. Furthermore, it allowed for the societal reorganisation that is essential to the establishment of the Islamic Dīn, a replica of the way of life that the migrants had in their old homelands. Muslim banks, for example, helped assuage the guilt of receiving interest for personal gain, which is a sin in Islam. Then, of course, there was the proliferation of butcher shops that served only halal meat. Finally, every effort was and is made to ensure that the young generation is not lost to Islam. Pressure groups that work with governments for concessions were set up to ensure Islam prospers, thrives and grows.

All of this was happening even as the government was turning a blind eye to the insidious expansion of Islam, the encroachment of land and most specifically the refusal to integrate into the society they had moved into as refugees or migrants. Today, the Muslim population of Birmingham is marginally over the Islamic demographic tipping point of about 25%. Therefore, their voices are becoming shriller, demands even more pressing, along with the gradual takeover of several aspects of society.

Today, when Sharia[6]Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims, BBC, 16 January 2012 is sought to be imposed within the Muslim community in blatant violation of British law, there is little that government does or chooses to do. When Muslim patrols demanding Sharia law in Britain, walk through the streets of Birmingham, it is a reflection of Taleb’s “Dictatorship of the small minority” or rather a small minority in the past, but now a strong ethnic group that knows that it has the entire city and the government apparatus wrapped around its little finger.

There are lessons here for all countries and societies interested in preserving their culture, maintaining social order and preventing the takeover of their “way of life”. Closer home, we have seen this played out in Kashmir, for example. Even within cities, we can perceive a palpable difference when entering into areas or ghettos that are dominated by one community. There is an unwritten law that nothing can be said because of the fear of consequences and the complete lack of governmental support.

What is happening in Birmingham should serve as a warning to all countries and that is why Birmingham is the bellwether of things to come if governments do not address the issues of radicalism and the dictatorship of the small minority. The Tipping Point in this case is a question of when and not whether. 

Alain de Benoist, French political philosopher and Journalist, made an interesting observation earlier today:

The assimilation of immigrants is neither a good nor a bad idea…It is simply impossible.

Given this, governments must stop attempts at integration and rather focus on the implementation of the law.

References

References
1 The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
2 Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life Kindle Edition
3 “The fastest growing religion in Birmingham revealed — and it may surprise you”, Birmingham Live, 10 April 2019
4 Church of England in decline, Islam fastest growing in UK: Survey, The Times of India, 2 June 2015
5 “Making a Place for Islam in British Society: Muslims in Birmingham” by Daniele Joly, Research Papers in Ethnic Relations No. 4, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University
6 Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims, BBC, 16 January 2012

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