Multicultural British Citizenship and Making Space for Muslims

Tariq Modood

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Abstract :
The 7 July 2005 London bombings have clearly raised the question of the limits of Britain’s multicultural society. It remains however to be seen whether or not its hallmark has been separation. After all, ‘Citizenship (…) consists of a framework of rights and practices of participation but also discourses and symbols of belonging, ways of imagining and remaking ourselves as a country and expressing our sense of commonalities and differences, and ways in which these identities qualify each other and create – or should create – inclusive public spaces.’ This is all the more inevitable as all social groups (the Muslim community to begin with) are characterized by internal diversity. Religious fundamentalism e.g. ‘cannot be equated with the participation of religious groups in multicultural citizenship’. It is absolutely crucial, indeed, to bear in mind that most forms of protest by Muslims, like the emergence of Muslim minority organizations campaigning for equality (with a view to promoting integration, not separation), are grounded in British political discourses and notions of citizenship. The danger of separation is even less of a threat if representation is understood as being ‘a democratic constellation of organizations, networks, alliances and discourses’. Furthermore, though some argue that the multicultural and the national are incompatible, it is necessary, when integration is aimed at, to offer something ‘strong, purposive and inspiring to integrate into’ (i.e. not just a set of core values, but something that promotes inclusion through positive difference). Either that or meaning-conferring identities will be found elsewhere. Integration therefore is not just a minority problem.
Published : 2010-03-11


Tariq Modood, « Multicultural British Citizenship and Making Space for Muslims », Cycnos, 2010-03-11. URL :