Peers in Sudan, Pride in Britain

Every time some there is some kind of flash-point between hard-line Muslims, and the nebulous cloud of values we call “western”, someone always pops up on the 24 hour punditry circuit, asking for the UK’s “muslim community” to “do more”.

That familiar refrain has been absent in the latest news story, that of Gillian Gibbons and Mohammed the Teddy Bear. Why? Because the “muslim community” has been very quick to present a united front in favour of Mrs Gibbons. Inayat Bunglawala was a visible figure on TV, and the MCB were unequivocal in their position. Today we hear that Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi are off to visit Sudan, to attempt to secure Mrs Gibbons early release.

I do not note this merely to show that the “muslim community” in Britain is now responding appropriately. My speech-marks around the phrase highlight the problematic nature of that term, and groups such as the New Generation Network reject the idea that Mr Bunglawala and the noble peers are legitimate representatives of such a diverse and disparate group.

Rather, I’m simply interested in how their early intervention has shaped and changed the tone of the story. It is not, as it could have been, presented as more evidence of a Britain fractured by multiculturalism. Instead, is the story of a confident Britain, united in its values, dealing with a consular incident in a backward foreign land. Yes, we’ve traded one set of stereotypes for another, but it is nevertheless a welcome change to the depressing narratives of the past few years.

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