What I learnt from my stay with a Muslim family

Last week, Tory leader David Cameron spent two days in Birmingham with the Rehmans.

Sunday May 13, 2007
The Observer

The challenges of cohesion and integration are among the greatest we face. I wrote in these pages in January that we cannot bully people into feeling British: we have to inspire them. Last week, I spent two days staying with Abdullah and Shahida Rehman and their family in Birmingham. The experience has strengthened my conviction about the right way to build a more cohesive Britain.

First, a concerted attack on racism and soft bigotry. You can’t even start to talk about a truly integrated society while people are suffering racist insults and abuse, as many still are in our country on a daily basis. We must also be careful about the language we use. No Muslim I’ve ever met is offended by Christmas, or supports its replacement with ‘Winterval’. But many Muslims I’ve talked to about these issues are deeply offended by the use of the word ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islamist’ to describe the terrorist threat we face today.



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