The time is late January 2015. The place is a university campus somewhere in England. ‘Kill Islam,’ says a piece of graffiti scrawled in big red letters on one of the university’s buildings, ‘before it kills you’. A student at the university writes: ‘Every time you come back onto campus, you’re reminded of it. When you’re trying to focus, it’s that nagging thought in the back of your head that keeps coming back.’
He continues: ‘And there’s the constant question that you ask yourself: do I belong here? … On campus, where I’m supposed to feel safe, there are people who actively call for the killing of people like me. I came to university to get an education, not to be the object of vitriolic hate.’
There is increasing anxiety and insecurity amongst many British Muslims at present, an increasing feeling of not belonging here, not belonging even in the places where they should feel most safe, the country’s universities, colleges, schools and nurseries. Such feelings have been exacerbated by the actions of government, and by government inspection regimes such as Ofsted. In this connection the recent requirement for all schools to actively promote what the government calls fundamental British values (FBV) is playing a particularly insidious and damaging role. The requirement leads to widespread miseducation about the nature of British history, society and culture, and to zealously insensitive and counter-productive inspections by Ofsted.
The difficulties and dangers inherent in FBV are outlined in an article by Bill Bolloten and Robin Richardson, published yesterday on the website of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). It can be read at http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-great-british-values-disaster-education-security-and-vitriolic-hate/
Also at the IRR website there’s a timely article by Arun Kundnani about the profound dangers for the education system which are inherent in the new counter-terrorism and security legislation. The article can be read at http://www.irr.org.uk/news/counter-terrorism-policy-and-re-analysing-extremism/. Kundnani shows that things are likely to get worse for the student cited above, and for everyone, before they get better.