By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)
The United Kingdom is one of the most accepting and welcoming countries for migrants in the world. The British people are more welcoming and willing to accept migrants, especially those who struggle to seek asylum as refugees or who have some good reasons for starting a new life in the UK. They have always shown their solidarity with refugees and asylum-seekers from every corner of the globe. Most of the Britons have proved to be friendly, nice, affectionate and generous towards migrants, originating from different backgrounds.
The majority of the immigrants to the UK are ethnic minorities who account for 14% of the entire population at present. The increase in immigration has added over two million people to the total population in the last 10 years. The five largest distinct minority communities in the UK include such, as Indian, Pakistani, Black African, Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi, among others, when this comes to size.
The integration of minorities within the larger UK society is very significant for tackling the current immigration issue in the United Kingdom.
Integration is the process of mixing with and joining the society or a group of people, often changing to suit their way of life, habits, and customs. This is an action or a step being taken to end the separation of people by sex, national origin, race, disability, social class, sexuality, age, marital status, language, employment status, etc., in an organisation or in society. The term ‘Integration’ is also defined, as ‘the bringing of people of different ethnic or racial groups into unrestricted and equal association’, as in society or an organisation.
‘Man is, by nature, a social animal’, as argued by the Father of Political Science and a renowned Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Therefore, this is hugely necessary for human beings to have a social life. They need to live together in a peaceful environment in order to behave like humans. The United Kingdom is home to many ethnic groups. The people from different ethnicities, living in the UK, include English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, European, Asian, American, Australian and many more.
The presence of various ethnic groups in the UK has made the country a multicultural society, where people come from different backgrounds. Similarly, the United Kingdom is a place that is dwelt by the believers and followers of various religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and even atheism where the people believe in no specific religion.
In the perspective of the aforesaid scenario, integration is very essential for the survival, sustainability, and development of British society, its values, traditions, and even its entity. There are many advantages, benefits and merits of integration into British society. However, some of such benefits of integration into British society are highlighted in the following lines:
a) Social, cultural or racial integration is very helpful in creating higher levels of trust among different ethnic groups living together in the UK.
b) This is a great source of providing more opportunities for developing a shared identity among people. If the people with different backgrounds are willing and ready to integrate themselves into a society whose culture is different from one another, this can enable them to develop shared or multiple identities where they may have different cultural outlooks and perspectives in their lives.
c) Integration can reduce the risks of experiencing civil unrest in the same society. For example, 71% of the 2011 riots in the United Kingdom happened in 10 percent of such areas that lacked social cohesion.
d) A great amount of radicalisation and fundamentalism can be prevented and stopped by having social, cultural and racial integration in the society. If the people, living in the same society, properly integrate into their society, they are not likely to adopt radical and fundamental views, opinions and beliefs. Thus, they can protect their society from the dangers and attacks of extremism, religious fanaticism, and racial elements.
e) Integration is enormously important for building links, connections, and relationships among the people, coming from different backgrounds.
f) The members of the relevant society can be able to make progress in various fields of life due to the presence and existence of integration in society.
g) Keeping ethnic minorities integrated into the society can protect and stabilise the continuous understanding between the general population and minorities.
h) This is extremely significant to promote social cohesion within British society in light of the ongoing immigration scenario in the country.
i) Integrating immigrants into the UK society is an excellent way or technique for keeping the liberal principles working.
j) Identity politics is a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics. This is one of the elements to be found among ethnic minorities where they play their role in politics by promoting their own particular concerns or interests without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group, based on their own specific social, ethnic, religious, racial or cultural identity. However, people can be able to avoid such inclinations, attitudes, and beliefs by integrating themselves properly into society while sacrificing their personal interests for the sake of the national interests of the country.
k) Integration into British society can also be greatly helpful in reducing and eliminating ethnic entrepreneurship. If there is no true integration into the society, this can create ethnic entrepreneurs who can manipulate differences, conflicts, and clashes in the society and, thus, deepen the divisions among the people for achieving their own benefits and vested interests.