Are Muslim Enclaves No-Go Areas, Forcing Other People Out, asks Historian John Cornwell

March 16, 2008

Author: John Cornwell

Source: The Sunday Times

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar (Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest). Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah (I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah).

The call to prayer resounds across the rooftops before dawn, bringing echoes of the Levant to provincial Luton and its 30,000 Muslims. But for infidel locals, the holy wake-up is a curse. “I’d like to pull the plug on that caterwauling,” a second-generation Luton Irish woman tells me. “I go to work, and I’ve got two small kids. It’s just not fair on non-Muslim families around here.”

While nearly three out of four people in Britain claim some form of Christian affiliation, Christianity makes ever less demands on the public space. Even nativity plays are surrendering to the sensitivities of secularists and other faiths. But the impact of Britain’s estimated 1.6m Muslims is increasingly assertive. Asian Muslims account for about 1 in 50 of British citizens, yet they dominate entire districts in the vicinities of their more than 1,350 mosques: 10 of them in Luton alone. Are Muslim enclaves making a contribution to a flourishing multicultural mosaic? Or are they undermining the cohesion of Britain’s civil society?