Ways of intimidating people
We learn from his former headteacher that Jihadi John had attended a school where more than 70 per cent of the pupils were, like him, Muslims.It is not Islamophobic to wonder if such a closed community might have nurtured a fatally narrow world-view.On the evening of my speech, both the present Home Secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat Schools Minister, David Laws — who were then in opposition — argued on the BBC1’s Question Time programme that I had gone too far.Worse still, one of my Labour colleagues, David Miliband, who was Minister for Communities, dismissed my concerns as ‘fatuous’. On the face of it we should be a nation completely at ease with our growing diversity. Yet while many clever young Muslim women head for the top medical schools, a handful are boarding planes to become the brides of Isis fighters.No one in France now doubts that the sickening violence that left a dozen dead in the Charlie Hebdo shootings was at least in part a consequence of the disastrous segregation of the French banlieues, the ghettos to which many Muslims have been consigned.Yet simply pointing out these facts is thought to be so sensitive that they have become virtually unsayable.
We thought that if the government tackled discrimination with enough vigour then we didn’t need to worry too much about racial and religious divisions, which would just melt away in time because, after all, we were the same under the skin.
Far from encouraging integration, it had become in their interest to preserve the isolation of their ethnic groups.
In some, practices such as female genital mutilation — a topic I’d made films about as a TV journalist — were regarded as the private domain of the community.
We repaired the window, stepped up security, warned staff to be careful leaving the building and forgot all about it.
Like many people in my position, I find that such threats are a routine occurrence.