Book Talk: UK Muslim author seeks roots of militancy

Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:26am EST
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By William Maclean, Security Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The prominence of Britain's Muslim minority in the nation's debate about security and social cohesion provides the backdrop to journalist Zaiba Malik's memoir of growing up a British Muslim of Pakistani descent.

"We Are A Muslim, Please" tells how she was raised by first generation immigrant parents in the run-down former industrial center of the northern English city of Bradford in a tradition of conservative piety.

At the same time she was desperate to fit in at school, an overwhelmingly white British institution, an effort that led to years of excruciating anxiety and moments of low comedy.

Malik's story is shaped by her curiosity about the roots of the militancy that has taken hold in some parts of Britain's Muslim communities. She was born in nearby Leeds in 1969, on the same street where, decades later, the bombers who killed 52 people in London in 2005 manufactured their bombs in a rented apartment.

Malik spoke to Reuters about Britain and Muslim communities:

Q: Is communal integration inevitable, as generations pass?

A: "I go back to Bradford a lot and the lack of integration is absolutely still stark. I find that really disappointing. I don't think there is anything natural about communities integrating over time. If they don't integrate from an early stage, then differences propagate themselves over time.

When my Dad came in the 1960s most Asian people were working class, they came to work in factories and on the buses. Now we have a middle class living in the nicer parts of Bradford... which means the knock-on effect is of white flight.   Continued...

<p>Pakistani-born British journalist Zaiba Malik walks into a court in Dhaka on November 26, 2002. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman</p>