Building Bridges
The unrest among British Muslims both young and old is not only due the British policies abroad but also due the policies at home for the last fifty years. Anti-immigration was the norm during 60s & 70s and the British society and the Establishment just closed its eyes and even state schools tried to hide all physical and verbal abuse of Muslim children and teachers under the carpet. Muslims do not feel equal; that leads to a victim identity and extremism can take place. On top of that the young generation was deprived of their cultures and languages making them cut off from their cultural and linguistic roots. The second and the third generation were educated in State schools and they all speak English in local accents but not well versed in Standard English. Schools do not encourage and teach Arabic, Urdu and other community languages. They are even discouraged to speak their own languages at home.

Now young generation of English speaking Muslims have an opportunity to build many more bridges between the British society and the Muslim community. Instead of building bridges both the societies are splitting apart at a point of no return. The words ISLAM & MUSLIMS have become the pre-occupation, biggest headache of and anathema to western politicians, media and public. These two words irritate them beyond imagination. Majority of Muslim pupils leave schools with low grades and now the few British Muslims who are in the institutions of higher education are under suspicion and the universities authorities have been urged to keep on eye on Muslims so that they do not involve in any subversive activities. This means a Muslim in an institution is not going to concentrate on his/her education and I am afraid to say that now majority of Muslim students are not going to complete their studies or research. The proposal is an act of racism. In my opinion, 7/7 bombers were the product of the British education system. They were mis-educated and de-educated by the native teachers who are not interested to understand their needs and demands. British society is reluctant to open up its sense of citizenship to all those that have come to live here. It has failed to help Muslims feel part of society. Institutional racism, drugs, crime incivility, binge drinking, anti-social behavior, rise in the rate of abortion and teen age pregnancies are common part of life in modern Britain. Muslim parent do not want their children to become integrated into such barbarity.

The DFES document clearly states that children should be encouraged to maintain and develop their home languages. The research of Jim Cummins (2000) high lights, how bilingualism is a positive benefit to cognitive development and bilingual teacher is a must. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny village. He/She does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brits. Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools to be well versed in English, Arabic, Urdu and other community languages. They need Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. They need to be proud of their cultural heritage.
Iftikhar Ahmad