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News Analysis

Britain's Multicultural Nightmare

by: 
Soeren Kern

More than 400 children were subjected to forced marriage in Britain during the past year, including a five-year-old girl who is believed to be the country's youngest victim of the practice.

The statistics were provided by the British government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as part of an ongoing effort to create a law that would criminalize forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The custom is already illegal in Scotland.

Overall, the FMU said it gave advice or support related to nearly 1,500 cases of forced marriage during 2011, although experts say the vast majority of forced marriages in Britain go unreported.

Most of the instances of forced marriage in Britain involve Muslim families from South Asia, particularly Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Many of the cases involve Muslim children who are taken abroad by their parents and forced to marry against their will. Forced marriages often involve kidnapping, beatings and rape.

Prime Minister David Cameron has compared the practice of forced marriage to modern day slavery and has said people should not "shy away" from addressing the issue because of "cultural concerns." A new law outlawing the practice is currently being drafted and could be in place by the end of 2012.

Separately, more than 65,000 women and girls in England and Wales have been the victims of female genital mutilation, and another 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are believed to be at a high risk, according to a London-based non-profit group called Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development.

Speaking in the House of Commons on February 6, British Home Secretary Theresa May said "Sadly, what we see are too many examples of this terrible crime continuing to take place. I think most people would be shocked to know how many young girls within the United Kingdom are subjected to female genital mutilation."

Female genital mutilation is most common among Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Although the practice is illegal under the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act, and carries a jail term of up to 14 years, no one has yet been successfully prosecuted.

In many cases, Muslim families often pool resources to fly professional "cutters" to Britain from Africa to perform mutilations on pre-pubescent girls for as little as £40 ($65), often without anesthetics, using blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels. In other cases, girls are flown abroad to their family's native country to help minimize the risk of detection.

On March 31, an anti-female genital mutilation activist group named Daughters of Eve began hosting workshops in London to encourage men to stop this practice. The workshops, which will run for five weeks, include topics such as an introduction to female genital mutilation, its consequences and the laws surrounding it.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that more than 2,800 so-called honor attacks -- punishments for bringing shame on the family -- were recorded by British police during 2011. That data was compiled by the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organization (IKWRO), a registered charity that provides advice to Muslim women and girls living in the United Kingdom, who are often facing forced marriage, honor-based violence, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse.

Although the statistics provide the best national estimate so far, IKWRO believes the real figure could be five times as high. The highest number of honor crimes -- which include murder, mutilation, beatings, abductions and acid attacks -- was recorded in London, where the problem has doubled to more than five times the national average.

Elsewhere in Britain, the government says that effective in 2013, it will end the practice of paying multiple social welfare benefits to Muslim immigrants practicing bigamy or polygamy.

In September 2011, a British newspaper exposé revealed that tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants in Britain are practicing bigamy or polygamy to collect bigger social welfare payments from the British state.

Although bigamy is a crime in Britain punishable by up to seven years in prison, the rapid growth in multiple marriages has been fueled by multicultural policies that grant special rights to Muslim immigrants who demand that Islamic Sharia law be reflected in British law and the social welfare benefits system.

The United Kingdom also recognizes polygamous marriages where both parties were resident in a country in which the practice is legal before they moved to Britain.

The report shows how Muslim men can take a second, third or fourth wife (or in some cases five or more) from anywhere in the world, father any number of children with her, and have British taxpayers assume responsibility for this family's upkeep and care.

By having a string of wives living in separate homes, Muslim immigrants are squeezing tens of millions of British pounds from the state by claiming benefits intended for single mothers and their children.

Those women are currently eligible for full housing benefits -- reaching £106,000 ($250,000) a year in some parts of London -- and child benefits paid at £1,000 ($1,500) a year for a first child, and nearly £700 ($1,000) for each subsequent one.

The British government is also working on a new law that would ensure that meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Sharia law cannot be sold to unwitting members of the public. The new measure would prevent schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues from serving so-called halal [permitted in Islam] meat secretly to customers.

The move will be welcomed by animal rights activists and many others, who argue that the traditional Islamic way of preparing meat -- which involves killing animals by drawing a knife across their throats without stunning them first -- is cruel and causes unnecessary pain.

In September 2010, an investigation by London's Daily Mail found that major supermarket chains, fast-food restaurants, even some hospitals and schools in Britain are serving halal food without telling those who are eating it.

Meanwhile, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) -- a key promoter of multiculturalism in Britain -- has refused to broadcast a screenplay about the threat that Islam poses to freedom of speech.

The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, says he will not air a play the National Theatre's controversial play called "Can We Talk About This?," which examines multiculturalism and how it has resulted in Britain being more divided than ever.

According to Thompson, there is "a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam." He also claims that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain, their faith should be given different coverage than that of more established groups.

In 2005, Thompson famously ordered BBC Two to air an anti-Christian musical called "Jerry Springer: The Opera," which mocked God and presented Jesus Christ as a homosexual. At least 45,000 people contacted the BBC to complain about the show, which contained an estimated 8,000 obscenities. According to one observer: "If this show portrayed Mohammed or Vishnu as homosexual, ridiculous and ineffectual, it would never have seen the light of day."

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

This article appeared originally in GatestoneIstitute.org