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EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 12:48 GMT
Immigrants 'should try to feel British'
David Blunkett visits a Sheffield mosque
David Blunkett: Sense of belonging essential
UK Home Secretary David Blunkett has urged people from ethnic minorities to develop what he calls a "sense of belonging" in Britain.

In a newspaper interview, he says racism is often deep-seated and must be confronted, but immigrants who settle here must do their bit to ensure that future generations grow up "feeling British".

Speaking ahead of the publication of reports into the summer's race riots, Mr Blunkett warned the government would not tolerate practices unacceptable in the UK, such as enforced marriages.


We will not tolerate what we would not accept ourselves under the guise of accepting a different cultural difference

David Blunkett

But Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said there was a danger the home secretary's remarks could be misinterpreted given the delicate situation of race relations in the country.

In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, the home secretary said proposed legislation in the New Year would require anyone seeking naturalisation to have a "modest grasp of English".

The three separate reports into the disturbances in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham in the summer are due out on Tuesday. All three towns have south Asian communities.

Oldham's deputy mayor, Rhiad Ahmed, said: "I can visualise BNP putting up election literature at the next local elections, quoting these words from the home secretary."

Deeply held

Mr Blunkett, who is to unveil a White Paper on immigration and nationality in the New Year, told the paper that racial prejudice is deep seated in certain areas of the country and would have to be faced.

But he suggested reviving those areas would depend on a "two way street".

He said those who have come to Britain from other parts of the world should encourage their children and grandchildren to develop a sense of identity and belonging to the UK.


Let's have the real debate, let's talk about racism

Manwar Jan Khan, Bradford community leader
He denied he was echoing Norman Tebbit's "cricket test" equating patriotism with support for the England team.

"There is a big debate to be had... about the test we apply to future generations to make sure that they are part of this solution."

He told the paper: "If we are going to have social cohesion we have got to develop a sense of identity and a sense of belonging."

But Mr Kennedy urged the home secretary to tread carefully.

He said: "The problem with the home secretary's remarks is that they can be taken, give the language he used, in a way that is not at all helpful."

Rioting in Bradford this summer
Reports will recommend how to avoid a repeat of this summer's riots
Manwar Jan Khan, a community leader in Bradford, said Mr Blunkett's comments were a "red herring" and more focus was needed on racism.

He said: "I'd like to know what David Blunkett means by integration. Like learning English - many of us do speak English, many are quite westernised.

"But let's have the real debate, let's talk about racism, let's talk about why white employees won't give Asian kids in Bradford any jobs. Let's talk about the impact of Islamophobia."

Unacceptable behaviour

Mr Blunkett said Britain's multi-ethnic community needed "sensitivity, not political correctness".

And he said the nation needed to "build diversity, not separation".

He argued that practices such as enforced marriages for Asian girls were unacceptable.

"We need to say we will not tolerate what we would not accept ourselves under the guise of accepting a different cultural difference.

"We have norms of acceptability and those who come into our home - for that is what it is - should accept those norms just as we would have to do if we went elsewhere."

And he called on the English to "celebrate their roots and identity" more, to feel more confident about welcoming those from other cultures.

Self-segregation blamed

The Home Office reports into the race riots in the three northern cities are expected to partly blame voluntary self-segregation for some of the racial tension, said the paper.

Mr Ahmed said if Asian Britons found themselves in ghettos, it was due to poverty and deprivation, not self-segregation.

He told Sky News: "We all want to get rid of segregation, but it is how you do it. People find themselves in extreme poverty and deprivation.

"They have no mechanism to fight out of that poverty and they end up in ghettos.

"Instead of offering them hope and aspiration, all we are offering them is English tests. That's not the best way to fight the National Front and the British National Party at the next local elections."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Carole Walker
"David Blunkett says... enforced marriages are unacceptable"
Keighley MP Ann Cryer
"There are queues of women dying to learn English in Bradford"
Manawar Jan-Khan, Manningham Residents' Association
"Learning English alone isn't the issue"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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