‘It seems that almost overnight it’s changed from Acton Vale into Acton Veil’

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In a recent opinion piece for the Telegraph, Jan Kelly’s argued that ‘all of us’ are becoming reluctantly racist, and multiculturalism is to blame. Kelly’s definition of multiculturalism is ill-defined, but suggests a policy towards immigration that is opposed to assimilation, but rather promotes linguistic ghettoization and ‘Islamisation’. The article’s imagery of the real and insurmountable difference that multiculturalism brings is striking; the undertones of which reflect deep suspicion of Islam.

Multiculturalism is used as by-word for linguistic and cultural dominance by a Muslim ‘other’. The outwards signs of this threat include Arabic writing on shop fronts, female neighbours in niqab who, in her words, “flap” down the road, and young Muslim men talking on their phones in shops, rather than pay her due regard. Areas where there is public use of languages other than English, or were people dress in particular ways, become “giant transit camp[s]” that are “home[s] to no one”, in Kelly’s eyes. These areas are products of multiculturalist policy.


Later in her article, Kelly shares her belief that ‘good’ schools mean ‘mainly white English’ schools, and that “good” areas have ‘pleasant cafes’ and ‘nice housing’. This language creates the impression of white affluence that is the better of Islamicly-inspired, multi-lingual ‘bad’ neighbourhoods.


Her article romanticises a fictive past that is cut off from return, where she wishes for a “journey on public transport [that] didn’t leave me feeling as if I have only just arrived in a strange country myself”. Jane Kelly’s opinion piece goes some way towards the reframing of Muslim ‘otherness’ as distinctly opposed to British identity.

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