In what Ways has Multi-Culturalism Impacted British Society in the last fifty years? In a statement on the first of March 2011, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson, high court judges, stated that ‘We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy’. ‘Although historically this country is part of the Christian West, and although it has an established church which is Christian, there have been enormous changes in the social and religious life of our country over the last century’. ‘Our society is now pluralistic and largely secular. We sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths. The laws and usages of the realm do not include Christianity, in whatever form’ (Telegraph, 2011). David Cameron also stated that Christians must now ‘be tolerant and welcoming towards homosexuality’, just another one of the many values Christians are being told to betray in multi-cultural Britain. England has one of the largest gay and lesbian cultures in Europe; we also have equal age of consent laws, partnership laws and even legal commitment ceremonies in some of our major cities (Enjoy England, 2011). Multiculturalism, according to Ruth Lea, should be defined as a diversity where individual groups have their own cultural beliefs and happy coexist but where there is a British identity to hold society together (Lea 2004). Individual faiths and cultures should be embraced and welcomed, each culture learning something from, and living amicably with, the other. Over the last 50 years, Britain has become increasingly multi-cultural. Many immigrants came to the UK in the 1950’s and 1960’s, from India and Pakistan, in search of a better life and to escape from the disruption of British India being split into India and Pakistan. Many people came to Britain in fear or escaping persecution. According to the BBC, Britain's Muslim population are almost all people who immigrated to Britain in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, or their descendants. In 1970 there were about 375,000 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in Britain. By 1993 the figure was about 1,620,000, with the rise in the number of Muslims being particularly pronounced (Black 2011). Muslims now make up approximately 3% of the British population and over half of them were born in Britain (BBC 2009). Before 1964, only seven new mosques had been registered in Britain, but in 1964, another seven were registered and over the following decade there were approximately eight new registrations per year. In 1996, it was estimated that there were six hundred and thirteen mosques in the UK. From the 1980’s, the sense of community grew as Muslims successfully campaigned to assert their own values and see halal food served in hospitals and schools (Lancashire Council of Mosques 2011). However, different faiths lead to different cultures and British society was not always welcoming to people from overseas. Racial and religious violence has broken out many times, in 1976 and 1979 in Southall, 1980 and 1983 in Bristol, Brixton and Manchester among other cities, 1985 in Birmingham, 2001 in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford (Stott 2006:283). British society had to change to curb this violence and to encourage multi-culturalism. In 1976, the Commission for Racial equality was formed to stop racial discrimination. The Crime Disorder Act of 1998 was introduced to stop people being victimised because of their religion or their racial group. The Criminal Justice Act of 2003 forces judges to look at whether a crime was committed in response to the victim’s religion, ethnicity or sexual identity. The British legal system has tried to encourage Britons to accept people of other faiths and cultures or at least not mistreat them, although there do still seem to be areas of ghettoization. While many people in the UK are happy to reach out to the stranger and embrace multi-culturalism, there are still some who believe in ‘defending the rights for whites’....
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Black J (2011) Overview: Britain from 1945 Onwards
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Hawkins M (2011) Multiculturalism ‘failed’ according to Cameron http://www.the-reading-list.co.uk/?p=305 [accessed 18/3/11]
The Lausanne Movement (1974) The Lausanne Covenant http://www.lausanne.org/covenant [accessed 18/3/11]
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