Skin-deep liberalism

“Perhaps the bleakest stain in our system’s record is its turning on its least privileged of minorities, pushing it to the corner, surrounding it with suspicion, repressive measures and policies, giving free reign to bigotry and prejudice. Muslims are Britain’s poorest community, five times more likely to live in overcrowded accommodation than their fellow white Britons, four times more likely to be unemployed, twice as likely to have no qualifications, live in social rented accommodation, and suffer from ill health.

“But just as Thatcher had blamed the poor for their poverty, the trend today is to hold this new underclass responsible for its misfortunes in one of the most socially stratified, exclusionist and segregated social systems in the world. From ‘the working class character’ with its ‘laziness’ and ‘lack of motivation’, to Muslim culture and its ‘penchant for isolationism’, our system seems to excel in the creation of scapegoats.”

Soumaya Ghannoushi examines the limitations of Western liberalism.

Guardian Comment is Free, 19 October 2006