Page last updated at 02:09 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 03:09 UK

Muslims have 'victim mentality'

A mosque dome
Mr Shafiq said the real issues facing Muslims are poverty, crime and racism

British Muslims are guilty of a "victim mentality" and should take greater responsibility for their lives, a Muslim Labour MP has argued.

Sadiq Khan also said more British Muslims must tackle sexism, learn English and condemn forced marriages.

The representative for Tooting, south London, made his comments in a report for the Fabian Society think tank.

Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation said Mr Khan was out of touch with grassroots Muslims.

'Liberal anxiety'

In his report, entitled Fairness, Not Favours, Mr Khan said: "We need to take more responsibility for our own families, ignore those who propagate conspiracy theories, and above all we need to leave behind our victim mentality.

"We must all agree that honour killings are murder and forced marriages are kidnapping. These traditions have no place here or anywhere."

He also claimed that Muslims in Britain are pre-occupied by foreign policy and not concerned enough about day-to-day political issues.

"Muslims need to recognise childcare is as important as Kashmir," he said.

We do not have a victim mentality but are victims of this government's failure
Mohammed Shafiq
Ramadhan Foundation
Assistant whip Mr Khan said there was no question that people coming to live in Britain should learn English and he criticised "liberal anxiety" about the issue.

"The requirement to learn English is not colonial. English is a passport to participation in mainstream society - jobs, education and even being able to use health services," he said.

"Having poor English creates multiple barriers to work; it decreases your confidence, makes it harder to gain other skills and qualifications and increases the likelihood of unemployment and your withdrawal from the labour market."

Islamophobia

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the "real issues" holding Muslims back were "poverty, crime, racism and Islamophobia".

He said: "We do not have a victim mentality but are victims of this government's failure to deal with real issues, issues around poverty, tackling the underlying causes of why there is terrorism in this country."

He said the Ramadhan Foundation had a long history of opposing forced marriages and so-called honour killings.

Mr Shafiq added there was no conflict between a concern for the fate of Muslims abroad and an awareness of the domestic political issues of Britain.

Muslims are facing increasing amounts of Islamophobia and discrimination so if some have a victim mentality, can you blame them?
Shaista Gohir
Muslim Voice UK

However Shaista Gohir, director of both Muslim Voice UK and Muslim Women's Network UK, agreed that more needed to be done by Muslims to tackle sexism, forced marriages and honour killings.

She also agreed it was important for British Muslims to speak English.

Ms Gohir, who is a government adviser on Muslim women, told the BBC: "Not being able to speak English is not only a barrier to integration but is also disempowering for individuals, so I agree that Muslims who do not speak English need to make more of an effort to learn."

But she said it was an over-generalisation to say Muslims had a victim mentality.

She said: "Muslims are facing increasing amounts of Islamophobia and discrimination so, if some have a victim mentality, can you blame them?"

"Yes Muslims do need to take greater responsibility of their lives but so do other communities that suffer problems such as under-age drinking and increased gun and knife crime."

In July the government launched a package of measures responding to calls from Muslim communities to support the promotion of citizenship and shared values, said a Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman.




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