Multiculturalism, faith, and women

Multiculturalism. I like it. At least in the sense that I like the large melting pot of cultures and ethnicity that you get in large UK cities. Yep, mixed multiple cultures are fun and add to life’s gaiety. However, there are problems. I don’t like multiple parallel monocultures that hold supremacist views of their own standing, and who are unwilling to mix with or tolerate others – regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Besides the corrosive effect that variant of multiculturalism has on society, it undermines the disadvantaged within such monocultures – particularly faith based monocultures.

Here’s Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters in a long paper in Feminist Legal Studies: Faith in the state? Asian women’s struggles for human rights in the U.K (Click on the pdf when you get there) in which she examines the Labour government’s “multi-faith” agenda for its impact on Black and minority ethnic women in the U.K.

The problem with the state accommodation of religious fundamentalism and even moderate religious leaderships is that it has undermined the political and social forces in our communities that have struggled against racism, poverty and gender discrimination. On the other hand, religious forces in our communities have grown confident and stronger. Their financial positions and vast membership bases have enabled them to occupy key positions from which to consolidate their power and control over their constituencies. The ideology of these groups, whilst claiming to be ‘”moderate”, is usually profoundly anti-democratic, working against and not for social justice and equality. Such groups use the language of discrimination and human rights to reassert a patriarchal world order by removing women from the public sphere (metaphorically if not physically) and by assuming absolute control of their freedom and liberties in the private sphere. Our struggle to retain our secular spaces, our secular voices, and to build a truly democratic secular state, has taken on a sense of urgency and desperation. But our real fear is that we can no longer be sure of our allies.

Via the NSS.