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Anyone who has ever studied those who suffer from addiction will tell you 50% of the journey towards a solution is the admission there is a problem in the first place. Where there is an absence of identifying the problem, finding an acceptable outcome is almost impossible.
Last December’s Telegraph and Argus report into segregation in Bradford will come as no surprise to those of us who either live there, or frequent the place for work purposes. The city IS divided – shockingly so. You’ll often hear reports of how parts of Belfast are populated exclusively by either Protestants or Catholics, but how often would you hear a comparable report of Bradford’s divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims? I can’t recall one! And, unlike Belfast, there are virtually no suburbs in Bradford one could call ‘mixed’. In this city, it’s either one or the other.
My issue with the study in question is its retrenchment into ethnic paradigms. The focus is, erroneously, on racial division. However, the truth is in Bradford the division is NOT a racial one. There is no white/black issue per se. What there is is a chronic divide between the city’s Pakistani Muslims and almost everybody else. That has been the case for most of the city’s recent history, though the divide became far worse in the years after the Salman Rushdie ‘Satanic Verses’ controversy in the summer of 1989. In the decades since, Bradford has seen two huge outbursts of Muslim violence – in 1995 and 2001 – resulting not only in millions of pounds worth of damage, but which also had the effect of driving the few remaining non-Muslim-owned businesses out of areas in the inner city. The most famous casualty of this brutal strategy was the JCT600 BMW dealership, formerly situated on Oak Lane in Manningham, which was burnt to the ground in the riots of 2001. The showroom was eventually replaced with a series of shops catering almost exclusively for Muslims. Thus, the cultural conquest of Oak Lane was finally complete. It has now joined the likes of Leeds Road, Manchester Road, Duckworth Lane and Legrams Lane, where shops and eateries catering for anyone outside the burgeoning Islamic population are now practically non-existent. If there is such a term as ‘contemporary cultural colonialism’, Bradford has become the quintessential laboratory for it.
For so long as the politicians and public servants in Bradford continue to portray the divide as a racial one, then for so long will a solution remain elusive. It can be no coincidence that the city with the largest ratio of Muslims in the UK is also amongst the poorest, most divided, most crime-ridden, most dangerous for car drivers, and most culturally-backward when it comes to the questions of female equality and emancipation. Those negatives don’t arise from skin colour. Instead, they are the by-products of the establishment of a backward, misogynistic religious culture nurtured for years on the weakness of doctrinal multiculturalism. Focus on that as opposed to ‘race’ and we might finally start to get somewhere.