Fraser Nelson has written a much celebrated article for the Daily Telegraph about British Muslims, and how they have integrated into British life.
British Muslims don’t really feel a sense of otherness. In fact, polls show they’re much more likely to identify with Britishness than the general population. The Citizenship Survey found that most Muslims agree with two propositions: that Islam is the most important thing in their life, and that their primary loyalty lies with the British state. Most are baffled by the idea of a tension between the two.
Too often, Islam is in the news because of some sort of culture clash (for example, the row over the Mohammed cartoons or veils). But Nelson points out that this is often a media cliche and unrepresentative of most British Muslims. He lists several examples where Muslims have collaborated with Jewish groups and churches to ensure that diversity of faith is maintained.
Last year, for example, the Jews of Bradford were facing the closure of their synagogue. Its roof was leaking, and the few dozen remaining regulars could not afford the repairs. Its chairman, Rudi Leavor, made the decision to sell the building and face up to it being transformed into luxury flats. As things turned out, the synagogue was saved after a fundraising campaign led by a local mosque.
This (and a few other examples that Nelson cites) are examples of what I like to call ‘public savviness‘, where ordinary people realise the value of being seen to do something generous and counter to expectations. Its a refreshing and welcome trend, brought about (in my view) by the proliferation of feel-good moments we see and share online.