London, Nov 2 (IANS) — This was crucial, he said, in the interest of race relations, because teachers and community leaders shape youngsters’ attitudes to help them identify with the country.
He praised Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh communities around Britain who have supported local schemes but recalled that in France 60 percent of Muslim preachers did not speak that country’s language.
He warned that Britain should not “go down the same road“.
Last year Blunkett provoked anger when he called for Asian parents to speak English at home to prevent “schizophrenia” between the generations.
The home secretary returned to a similar theme in the annual Heslington lecture at York University on religion’s place in modern society Wednesday.
He said: “It is a worrying trend that young, second-generation British Muslims are more likely than their parents to feel they have to choose between feeling part of the U.K. and feeling part of their faith — when in fact they should feel part of wider, overlapping communities.
“The issue here is identity — whether people identify with the actual world in which they live, or with another world they are taught about, which offers the absolute certainties which day-to-day interaction can never do.
“We need to join those within faith communities who are trying to resist this tendency, working together to isolate extremism.”
He said: “Teaching in religious communities whether evangelical, Christian, or Islam, is rarely spoken about, but it is vital.
“This is not just a problem for Britain; our European partners are wrestling with the same questions. In France, which has five million Muslims, a real debate is under way.
“At the moment in France, 60 percent of Muslim preachers do not speak French. We should be working together with the Muslim community in Britain to ensure we are not going down the same road.
“It is crucial those who have this key role in shaping the world view of our young people should be in a position to help them relate to the world in which they live, rather than turning them away from it.
“This is absolutely central for the development of the Muslim community itself and for the life chances of young Muslims, but also has a wider impact on social cohesion and race relations“, he said.
Blunkett insisted that he was not calling on faith groups to become involved in politics.
“I simply want all of us to recognise that in an increasingly complex, connected world we all share the challenge to find solutions to our common problems.”
© Copyright 2001-2003 IANS India Private Limited, New Delhi. Posted on Religioscope with permission.