Rice or Ricin? Multiculturalism in a Time of War

Current UK public policy is seeking simultaneously to win support for the British government’s policy in Iraq and on counter-terrorism while not increasing racial tension in the UK. Bellicose rhetoric about Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein can easily exacerbate antipathy towards Muslim communities. The civil disturbances in English northern towns in the summer of 2001 showed that Muslim communities are already resented by white communities in some places. According to the official inquiries after the disturbances, some poorer white people in communities with high male unemployment and social disadvantage feel that the help available through, for example, regeneration funds, is disproportionately going to black and minority ethnic communities. Across the UK as a whole, black and minority ethnic people may be worse off than white people, but as far as local circumstances in these communities are concerned, white people are (in their probably accurate view) no better off. The left-behind are fighting amongst themselves for the consolation prizes of national prosperity.

Gitsham, M. & Lemos, G. (2004) Rice or Ricin? Multiculturalism in a Time of War, Thresholds (Journal of Counterpoint, The British Council's Cultural Relations Thinktank), Spring/Summer.

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