Guest post: The solution is not to try to find groups to blame

Originally a comment by Bernard Hurley on All the women SPIEGEL likes to call the “old feminists”.

About 25 years ago I was a parent governor of a school in Ilford in East London. According to their statistics, the intake was 60% Muslim. Most were from Bangladesh but there were some Kurds. At the time, apart from language difficulties, I had no problem talking to any of the mothers and they seemed to have no problem approaching me about any issues they might have with the school. One of then told me that she likes living in England because she can have more of a say about how her children are brought up. Most of these people came to England because they wanted a more western way of life, not because they were trying to escape from anything and so had some sort of commitment to finding out how the society works and what its values are.

However things seem to have changed – I have been told by one of my Muslim friends who still lives in the area that this would not be possible today. He puts this down to the spreading of Islamist propaganda among younger Muslims. Although I hadn’t realised it myself, I had provided a small area in which these women could start to find a way out of some of the traditional misogyny of the communities they came from. Today the Islamists would simply not allow this to happen. Nevertheless most Muslims who live in the area would be shocked by what happened in Cologne.

Even though most Muslims are not Islamists, the mere existence of Islamism as a political force will tend to make the traditional misogyny of some Muslim communities seem more acceptable. I should imagine that most of the perpetrators in Cologne were not in the West out of choice, had no idea what Western values are and, even if they rejected it, have been influenced by the Islamism that has affected the culture they were brought up in. Even so, even though there were many of them, they are but a small proportion of all the young male refugees to have come to Europe recently.

The solution, as always, is not to try to find groups to blame but to find out what exactly happened and why and to work out what to do about it.

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