- In borough of Blackburn with Darwen, 1/4 of its 150,000 people are Muslim
- There is one street, Bastwell Road, with only one remaining white family
- There are more than 40 mosques in the borough haunted by segregation
- These districts are unrecognisable from the Blackburn of 50 years ago
Neil Tweedie for the Daily Mail
What a strange thing it is to stand in a street in Britain asking someone if they know of a white family living in the neighbourhood.
This is liberal, multi-cultural Britain of the early 21st century, after all, not apartheid South Africa.
One would imagine that people of all races in this country mix, to some extent at least, in all towns and cities.
What a strange thing it is to stand in a street in Britain asking someone if they know of a white family living in the neighbourhood
But this is Blackburn, in central Lancashire, a prime candidate for the title of Britain’s most racially segregated community.
The young lady answering the query is British-Pakistani and says politely that she thinks the white family live in the house with the Ford car outside.
Behind us, a hilltop mosque dominates the surrounding streets, crescent moons pointing skyward. Minarets have replaced mill chimneys in Blackburn, once the centre of the cotton industry.
There are more than 40 mosques in the borough of Blackburn with Darwen, and about a quarter of its 150,000 people are Muslim. And that Muslim population is heavily concentrated in certain parts of the town, run-down areas like Whalley Range, Audley and Bastwell.
These districts are unrecognisable from the Blackburn of 50 years ago, when workers flooded in from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh — cheap labour for a dying textile industry.
This segregation is now reaching ‘worrying levels’, says a report published yesterday by the senior civil servant Dame Louise Casey. She warns that the increasing isolation of some communities can lead to the encouragement of religious and cultural practices that are not only contrary to British values but sometimes British Law.
Blackburn figures in her report because of the geographically concentrated nature of its ethnic minorities, particularly Pakistanis.
Muslim Pakistanis tend to inhabit certain districts in the town, sometimes to the almost complete exclusion of other groups — and their children often attend schools dominated by their own religious-ethnic group.
One would imagine that people of all races in this country mix, to some extent at least, in all towns and cities, writes Neil Tweedie
There are more than 40 mosques in the borough haunted by segregation
Donna Phillips, her disabled husband and her three children are indeed the last whites on Bastwell Road, a collection of drab homes marching down a hillside. She can remember when there were many white families in the area, mixing with the growing Asian population, before the exodus started.
‘They went, then them, and then my friend Julie,’ says Mrs Phillips, pointing at various houses vacated in recent years by white families, and which are now Asian households.
Does she know of any other white families nearby?
‘There’s some up the road, I think,’ she responds, sounding slightly amazed at what she is saying. ‘Odd, isn’t it?’
And yes, it is odd, and unsettling, but it’s the result of processes that are hard to stop because they go to the heart of human behaviour.
The Casey report was preceded this autumn by a similar study by Professor Ted Cantle of the Institute of Community Cohesion. He suggests there is an accelerating trend towards segregation in urban areas, as white families leave, to be replaced by minority ones.
Muslims gathering outside a Blackburn mosque after Friday prayers
Donna Phillips who is the only white resident on Bastwell Road
In the case of Blackburn, with its burgeoning Asian population, particularly its young population, this creeping geographical polarisation could have serious consequences.
‘This increased segregation in small residential areas leads to young people not meeting and talking to each other,’ he says. ‘It can be a breeding ground for intolerance, prejudice and extremism, both on the Far Right and in terms of religious fundamentalism.’
Mass immigration is changing the UK by the decade. In 2001, what is termed by the census as the White British made up 87 per cent of the population of England. By 2011, that figure had fallen to 80 per cent. Muslims make up the largest non-Christian community in the UK, at 2.8 million in total, according to the last census.
In Blackburn with Darwen, the White British population is just 66.5 per cent, and in Blackburn proper, which is home to two-thirds of the borough’s 150,000-strong population, that figure must be substantially lower.
When polarisation starts within an area, it can be dramatic. Blackburn’s Bastwell council ward is a case in point. In 1991, the White British component of its population was 42 per cent. That is now under seven per cent.
Academics class an area with an 80 per cent or more minority population as a ghetto.
Back in the day: Church Street in Blackburn, pictured in 1956
British Whites tend to move to white areas when they go, provoking comparisons with so-called white flight in the United States.
Researchers have suggested that ‘nudge’ policies — designed to encourage people to make a particular decision — could be used to tempt whites to stay, such as encouraging the presence of more traditionally British shops in areas increasingly dominated by ethnic minority outlets such as halal butchers.
‘Nudges could involve retaining pubs, churches and football grounds; flying the Union Jack and George Cross from public buildings; and continuing to celebrate Christmas, St George’s Day and other festivities associated with the majority,’ writes Professor Cantle’s co-author Eric Kaufmann.
This rather implies that white behaviour — be it fuelled by fear of, or distaste for, other cultures — is the driving factor.
But Mrs Phillips, 46, sees it in a different way. ‘A lot of families here are all right, but some aren’t,’ she says, recalling occasions when she and her autistic son have been subject to racial abuse by Asian youths.
‘They [Asian families] can be absolutely fine, but you sometimes feel they don’t really want to mix with you. They are a very segregated community.
‘Sometimes, you get a look that says ‘Why are you here?’ They don’t get white people who want to live here.
‘The younger generation are more intolerant than the older people.’
Cultural factors can encourage segregation. For example, in contrast to many modern white families, members of extended Asian families often cluster in the same area.
And then there is religion: Muslim families tend to concentrate around mosques.
Muslim families tend to concentrate around mosques
A Blackburn estate agent, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that buying patterns encourage geographical polarisation in the town. Pictured: The town in 1956
A Blackburn estate agent, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that buying patterns encourage geographical polarisation in the town.
‘We sell very few properties in Asian areas,’ says the owner, ‘because very few are available. Ninety-nine per cent are Asian-owned already — they buy and sell between themselves.
‘Families want to be together, and they want to be near their mosques and shops, so they will pay more for a house that gives them those things.’
Car dealer AJ is ‘Blackburn born and bred’ with a warm accent to prove it
And white buyers?
‘The local community know the areas — white people wouldn’t look in those areas.’ Car dealer AJ is ‘Blackburn born and bred’ with a warm accent to prove it. His parents came to Blackburn from Pakistan. He lives on Bastwell Road and knows and likes Donna. Increasing segregation is a source of sadness to him.
‘When I was born, 40 years ago, this community was predominantly white,’ he says. ‘I was taught at a Catholic school and even now I send my kids to a school that is further away so they can mix with kids from all backgrounds.’
AJ does not believe ‘white flight’ is fuelled by any kind of white superiority complex. It is more, he says, to do with unfounded fears.
‘Most Muslims in this area are liberal and broad-minded. At the end of the day, the white people want to segregate themselves. If they want to live in predominantly white areas that is their choice.’
Does it make him sad?
‘Yes, because my children are not mixing with other communities. When I was young, my friends were white. We all bleed in the same colour.’
The town first pushed for a town hall in 1833. Blackburn became a County Borough in 1888
Blackburn town hall now
Mrs Phillips’ parents left for Scotland years ago, unhappy about how Blackburn was changing. ‘I would move if I could afford a bungalow somewhere else,’ she muses. ‘In a white area.’ She finds the need to say this depressing.
AJ is similarly concerned. ‘I’m English. I’m born and bred here. We’ve got to fix this.’
If it isn’t fixed — and there is not much sign of that happening — parts of ‘multicultural Britain’ just might sleepwalk into de facto apartheid.
Muslim backlash at ‘divisive’ race report
By Ian Drury
Angry Muslim groups hit back last night after a government report said deepening segregation along race and religious lines had fuelled extremism and child sex abuse.
The report accused public bodies of ignoring or condoning ‘regressive, divisive and harmful’ cultural and religious practices for fear of being called racist.
Public institutions have ‘swept problems under the carpet’ rather than confronting them – scuppering opportunities to tackle terror sympathisers, hate preachers, criminal gangs and paedophiles.
In a damning indictment, author Dame Louise Casey blamed successive governments for failing to handle mass immigration, leading to growing numbers of neighbourhoods becoming ghettos.
A senior civil servant slammed ‘right-on’ critics for turning a blind eye to ‘worrying levels’ of segregation. Pictured: Blackburn
The senior civil servant slammed ‘right-on’ critics for turning a blind eye to ‘worrying levels’ of segregation and social exclusion. Deep-seated ‘misogyny and patriarchy’ in some communities had contributed to divides in Britain, she concluded.
Theresa May last night denied seeing Dame Louise’s report before it was published. Her denial followed claims the critical document was watered down following interventions from civil servants.
The Prime Minister was Home Secretary for six years, covering the period when the problems uncovered by the study developed.
Dame Louise’s shocking verdict came after David Cameron asked her to study how some Muslim communities were cut off from the rest of society – leaving vulnerable people at risk of radicalisation.
But it drew an angry response from Muslim groups.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation think-tank, condemned it as ‘inflammatory, divisive, pandering to the agenda of the far-Right’.
He said: ‘We are saddened that once again British Muslims have become a political football which is bashed from time to time without any regard for the impact this has on individuals who are then subjected to threats and violence.’
Theresa May last night denied seeing Dame Louise’s report before it was published
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid vowed to study the year-long report’s findings ‘closely’.
Dame Louise, the Government’s community cohesion tsar, made a series of recommendations, including all new migrants taking an oath of allegiance, promising to embrace Britain’s liberal values before arriving. She also said everyone living here should be ‘expected’ to speak good English.
Her review found that the UK has ‘benefited hugely’ from immigration, but is becoming more divided.
Dame Louise’s report also highlighted the plight of women in some Muslim communities, saying she encountered ‘countless examples of abuse and unequal treatment’. She said only one in five Muslim women could speak English proficiently, and they were more likely to be kept at home and were ‘disempowered and treated as second-class citizens’ by the ‘abusive and controlling behaviour of men’.
The report also found the practice of ‘unregistered polygamy’, where a man illegally takes more than one wife, to be ‘more commonplace than might be expected’. Dame Louise cited specialist match-making websites such as ‘secondwife.com’ and anecdotes during interviews which ‘implied a common acceptance of polygamy’, which had a negative impact on women and children.
The report also found the practice of ‘unregistered polygamy’, where a man illegally takes more than one wife. Pictured: Blackburn
Dame Louise said: ‘Too many leaders have chosen to take the easier path when confronted with these issues in the past – sometimes with good intent – and that has often resulted in problems being ducked, swept under the carpet or allowed to fester. This accommodation can range from relatively trivial issues such as altering traditional cultural terms to avoid giving offence. [But] at its most serious, it might mean public sector leaders ignoring harm or denying abuse.’
The report highlighted the child abuse scandal in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, where Asian sex gangs abused more than 1,400 children, as a ‘catastrophic example of authorities turning a blind eye to harm in order to avoid the need to confront a particular community’.
The report is another blow to those public figures – particularly under New Labour – who championed multiculturalism, the Left-wing doctrine which encourages migrants to keep their own traditions rather than integrate into British ways.
Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said it endorsed the ‘few, fair and supportable suggestions’ proposed by Dame Louise. He added: ‘I hope we can facilitate robust and active conversations in British Muslim communities where we are frank about the challenges facing us and creative enough to meet them head on.’
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who chairs the all-party group on social integration, agreed that division had bred extremism and was ‘sapping our communities of trust’.
51 LANGUAGES ON CITY STREET SIGNS
More than 50 languages are used in signs and notices across Manchester, a study reveals.
Researchers said it is a result of the city’s ‘superdiverse’ population produced by successive waves of immigration. Their report said that in one area, eight out of ten schoolchildren are thought to have a first language which is not English.
Academics at Manchester University found 51 languages written in 16 alphabets and scripts. Public signs included one saying ‘do not feed the pigeons’ in English and two other languages. An NHS health centre touchscreen featured English as well as Greek, French, Albanian, Hindi, Chinese, Turkish, Spanish, Urdu, and Polish.
Such approaches have been criticised in the past for not encouraging newcomers to learn English. The Casey report yesterday urged public authorities to actively promote the use of English.
Professor Yaron Matras, who led the study, said: ‘It shows that the people who speak these languages feel at home in Manchester and are confident to display their heritage, and that the city’s public institutions make an effort to be inclusive.’
Published at Tue, 06 Dec 2016 02:48:33 +0000