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Parallel Lives

Muslim waving British flag - Matt Writtle/PA
Integration, the way forward...

Parallel Lives?

If Jack Straw is right, Muslims and non-Muslims will 'soon be leading parallel lives' here in the North West. But is he right? Are we a region divided? Or can we bring our communities together? We want to hear from you...

When MP for Blackburn and Leader of the Commons Jack Straw made his comments suggesting that the wearing of the veil by Muslim women was a barrier to integration, it unleashed a huge debate about multi-culturalism in the UK.

It’s something that we’re looking at here at BBC television, radio and online right across the region.

Get in touch

What are your experiences? Your children may play together at school but do you mix with your Muslim or non-Muslim neighbours? Whether you do – or don’t - we want to hear from you.

We’re looking for both Muslims and non-Muslims to provide us with a snapshot of life across the North West. To take part, just fill in the form below...

Renee  from Preston says...

There is minimum interaction with women who have their face completely covered - no smile to welcome each other, no way of knowing what they are thinking.  A person does not have to cover their face in order to be modest.

A Muslim sister from Blackburn says...

I am a muslim girl and I am only 15, I have worn the veil for 5 years of my life. I feel really confident mixing in with people around me whether they are Muslims or not and I feel great. At the end of the day we should remember one thing whatever Jack Straw said it is not true. It is his opinion. Also when he said 95% of the women that come to see him, they are only a few. I mean he is a MP now women in our community don't even see him, so I don't know where he got that from. Also when women wear the veil they are going to stay quiet and not answer and not talk, because Islam has told us to. I am a student and I go to school which is only for girls, for Islam does not allow free mixing at all. Nowadays you may be seeing people who don't even look like Muslims. well this is because of how they feel and they will get their punishment in the hereafter from Allah.

Graham from Blackpool says...

The biggest point that is missed regarding whether veils are worn or not is that people who are deaf/hard of hearing and lip read cannot understand what is being said. This completely discriminates against this community and yet nobody has mentioned it. I have no problem with it being worn  but when I am spoken to I need to see the face and lips to be able to communicate back. What would happen if I worked in a shop and a lady came in wearing a veil and I said sorry I cant deal with you. They would be up in arms claiming discrimination. The reason Jack Straw brought it up was maybe for the same reason that he couldn't hear them very well. This religious zealots have taken over this whole debate.

Mark from Blackburn says...

I read two news articles today. One saying that Shariah law is becoming more common in the country and the other saying that sales of the veil have increased in Blackburn since Jack Straw raised the issue. It seems to me that most Muslims don't want to integrate, makes you wonder why they come here in the first place doesn't it?

Tom from Preston says...

Is it any wonder that some members of the Muslim community in this country feel threatened. Most of the comments below make me feel uneasy, far more so than any woman wearing a niqab. The most disturbing group of people in this country are the "I'm not racist... but.." brigade.

Rob from Nelson says...

I'm a middle aged white man of no particular faith. I recently had the opportunity to talk to a small group of Asian women wearing the niqab. They were entirely amiable, reasonable, articulate young women and I had no trouble communicating with them. I think we are making too much fuss over a bit of cloth.

Aaisha from Blackburn says...

Having attended the debate in Blackburn I can now see that Muslims more than ever need to take on the duty of open discussion and debate with the non-Muslims, this will dispel the ideas they hold, unless they are purely racist. After all before I became Muslim I had lots of bogus ideas about the Muslim faith that the media pushed on to me. If we dispel these and show the people what the real issues are then community cohesion can be achieved. In order to solve a problem you need to look at the root of it, I don't think the veil is the real issue that is destroying the cohesion, the media and policy makers are doing that, it is about time the people started thinking for themselves and opened their minds and ideas to each other, we all have a lot to learn. Before someone says they are not racist they need to define what racism is. I an English revert and I get verbally abused every day, not because I am Asian, but because I am Muslim. So clearly some non-Muslims hold negative ideas about Islam.

Sara from Blackburn says...

For integration to work both sides have to agree to integrate. I find Muslims tend to not want to integrate and retain their cultural values and assumptions which is fine, but at the same time they must accept that their unwillingness to meet in the cultural middle, so to speak, is going to be detrimental and make people unsympathetic to them. It's not victimization if it is self inflicted.

Zainab from Burnley says...

I have 2 children one of whom is at secondary school in year 9. She was in a school with a high proportion of ethnic minority children before the summer but as of September stared a school in which she was one of three Pakistani children in the school. Having been there for almost 2 and a half months she has been bullied and been a target of racism. The government wants integration and communities to mix I moved my child to a majority white school she had bananas thrown at her, spat on and remarks like 'we have to get used to the smell of pakis' was a constant daily aggravation she faced. She came to the point where she could no longer cope and did not attend school instead ran off to Manchester, we had no contact with her for more than 48hrs, she was suicidal because of the abuse. I firmly believe that it's not the ethnic minorities that can't intergrate but the white communities who are ignorant of other people's race, culture and religious backgrounds because they refuse to accept something that is different from their "norm".

Sara from Blackburn says...

Having watched Trevor McDonalds 'Tonight' I must comment firstly that I have many Asian acquaintances, neighbours and colleagues who are wonderful! This clearly indicates that I am NOT racist before anyone implies otherwise. However, whether it be the 'Sisters of Islam's own choice to wear these Hijabs/Veils or whether they are influenced by their religions or male peers, remains to be seen. If viewers observed closely they would've noticed Margo Grimshaw and the Asian journalist during the interview, leaning inwards and straining to hear what the Asian doctor was saying (she wore a veil) - exhaustive and frustrating to say in the least and that's just for a hearing person. Imagine how this effects people who are hard of hearing/profoundly deaf. Along with facial expressions to aid communication, lip-reading is vital too..... Also what do Motoring Insurers feel about this? Surely it must be a liability to drivers who wear these, for themselves, other motorists and pedestrians too. Doesn't it effect peripheral vision? Community relations may improve once this anti-social garment is dealt with, who knows. I don't blame Jack Straw for broaching this topic as the Asian population has grown, will continue growing, hence more hijab/veil wearers..... I rest my case

Steve from Burnley says...

As a white male from Burnley I find that the Asians in this town totally ignorant and arrogant they only want what's right for them and if it isn't then they start on about racial discrimination. To me it looks as though they want a separate way of life to us I would even go as far to say a separate state within this country and the way we are bowing down to their every whim they will get it in the future. Now that is when the trouble will begin.

Colin from Blackpool says...

I used to live in Brierfield but moved away because of the Asians moving in. I'm sick and tired of listening to Asians and their rights. If they don't like it why don't they leave, but they wont leave because they've got it made in this soft country.

X from Clitheroe says...

I live in Clitheroe and when people heard this there was a strong feeling of anger. Local youths have actually claimed that if a mosque is built they will take bets on who can break the windows first.

Rebecca from Clitheroe says...

The veil is not a religious observance, it is a cultural preference and the choice of the wearer. It is cultural differences that are causing the divide between Asians and white people, not religious differences. I believe that if people from different cultures want to live in harmony in British society, they should make cultural changes themselves to fit in.

James from Blackburn says...

Blackburn has changed. When I was younger people on both sides lived together and mixed more freely. I feel the imans that have come to Britain have stirred up trouble in Blackburn where there was tolerance they have preached diversity. I  remember when kids of all backgrounds went to the farm and saw all the animals pigs included now its banded. Religious fervour on both sides of the faiths Muslims and Christians are both vying for power at a cost to the community The veil is just a rebellious symbol by the youth just like punks used to do in the 80s nothing more. The women say they may have a choice as well but we found out recently that women are not allowed to pray in the same mosque as men in Britian we did away with all male clubs so why were they allowed to build these mosque with these restrictions women should have equal right in England. This is not so as far as I can see, it is backward thinking. If Jesus and Mohamed where alive today  I think they would be horrified at what was going on in the world.

Anon from Clitheroe says...

Having studied at Blackburn College and worked in Burnley I feel there is a definite divide in the North West. I for one had huge problems with teenage Muslim boys having no respect for the opposite sex, and I have found no proof what so ever that the Koran teaches Muslims to be polite and love thy neighbour. During my time working in Burnley I came across hundreds of Muslims who could barely speak a work of English yet had lived in this country for years! How is this right? I was to move to Spain or France I wouldn't expect everyone to speak in English to me! I wouldn't expect leaflets to be printed in English! I would do my best to learn their language and culture otherwise what would be the point in moving to that country in the first place? Although I don't know how many benefits would be on offer if I did! Maybe I need to do some reading up!

Helen from Burnley says...

The British people are fed up with the politicians using the ethnic beliefs to win brownie points, let’s face it we the British are to blame for the way that this country has turned out. If there was a stricter policy in place on immigration and entry to this country we would not be in this situation. I do not want to live in an area which is becoming more and more like Pakistan every day. I’m British and proud of it. All I see is a race that chooses to ignore the British laws and our cultures, because of the Muslims I’m not able to see my daughter in a nativity play at school as it may offend the Muslims….., oh what a shame, really I don’t think that the true Brits of this country give a stuff about the Muslims. I’m sick and tired of being told you cant say this or you cant say that, freedom of speech springs to mind, if the Muslims who live here don’t like British way of life, then leave.

Alex says...

A helmet must be removed from a bikers head if going into a bank but Muslims are not asked to remove a Niqab as it may offend.

Helen from Nelson says...

Both me and my husband come from another country, and we have adapted to the British culture. We need to put a stop to hiding behind the racist and religion thing and start to get some order back in to this country.

Jacob from Blackburn says...

As a Jewish person from Blackburn, I can clearly say that my area is not ethnically divided. There is a massive amount of integration here. Let me give you an example on my street there's a church and they annually hold a Christmas fair. this year we have a huge response from people of all ethnic backgrounds on voluntary work for this event. The source of the problem of integration is bias media and MP's, such as jack straw and his famous fashion comments on the niqab. so it's really quite simple to solve the problem of integration in multi-cultures, to stop people like Jack Straw influencing divisions.  

David Shapcott Burnley & Padiham BNP organiser says...

Shahid Malik states that the BNP were involved in the Burnley Riots. He is telling lies the BNP were not involved at all

Christine from Preston says...

I am and have worked for employers who are clearly seen to use policies such as racial equality and equal opportunity and they employ a wide range of mixed cultures, so it annoys me when I see Asian or Muslim employers only employing their own nationalities.    No other nationalities or white British  to be seen!    I will work with anybody of any culture if they are nice people and we treat each other with respect and equality but I am concerned that Asian communities will not try as hard to integrate and be seen to employ white British people in their workplaces.  I fear that given half a chance they would actually leave us out completely.  We all must learn to mix and work together for the future happiness of the inhabitants of Great Britain.  On several occasions I have walked in the large main Post Office in Preston town centre and behind every desk is an Asian face, not one other culture, this seems very unfair and is not promoting racial equality or equal opportunities for all.   

Peter from Burnley says...

I believe the fundamental question is respect. How much does anyone respect the views of their neighbour. This is not confined to racial questions, but equally applies to any community activity. I dislike seeing litter on the streets, does the person who leaves the litter consider my views?, or do they live in an isolated world where their opinions are paramount. The person who parks across the lines in a car park gives no thought to other users. So with regard to race. I was born 65 years ago in a Lancashire mill town. I have lived all my life in Lancashire, I like living here, I get on with the people, I associate with the sense of humour, I talk the language, (with a regional accent). I do not choose to live in London, or Cornwall, or Dorset, or Wales etc. because the majority of people who live there are different. I am more than happy to visit all these places, but I prefer to live in Lancashire. How boring some will say, but I have travelled extensively throughout Europe, Canada, and the USA. If I preferred to live in one of these countries, I would move, but the reason for the choice would be because I preferred the culture of the country in which I choose to live, not simply because the weather is better , the food cheaper, or some other materialistic reason.  I particularly like France, and have spent some time working there. To integrate with my colleagues, I learnt to speak French fluently,  the result being that I could discuss matters relating to any subject with a full understanding of the sensitive nature of some areas of discussion. I am reassured when in France that I am now asked only from which region do I originate rather than my country of origin. Not everyone has the time to acquire a full language, but it is frequent that I see people behaving in France in a "normal English" manner which is extremely ignorant to a French person. This is ignorant in the sense of uneducated, rather than as a "larger lout". The result is a level of service say in a shop or restaurant which the English visitor will equally consider to be rude. These misunderstandings occur between two European cultures, and obviously have no relation to colour. Similarly if someone moves to a new country, town, or street, if they choose not to speak the same language, adopt a different dress code, and insist on acceptance of these principles, then they will be accepted by those who have no allegiance to the traditional values of the area, but  need to make considerable effort to communicate with what I believe is the majority, before acceptance is to be achieved. People talk about integration. I cannot see how integration can be achieved without communication, and until such time we will generate separatism resulting in ghettos.

Peter from Slaterforth says...

I am a farmer and agricultural contractor working in eastern Lancashire.  I truly believe I am not fundamentally racist. However, my two mid twenties daughters, both graduates and currently working towards becoming lawyers, tell me I should wake up and take notice of 'the elephant that's now in my kitchen'. They and their friends are far more racist than I or my wife have ever been. My daughters and their friends racial experiences come from street level... taxi rides, take aways, clubbing and the like. My daughters both have Asian friends, but none of Muslim faith. I have recently bought a new car and the person who dealt with the sale was a young 25 year old girl of Indian decent. My wife and I were a little shocked at her outspoken but well articulated views on the Muslim community in and around Bradford where we bought the car. Maybe I've had my head stuck in the ground too long... but it doesn't appear to me that multi-culturalism is an issue in the UK today. The problem and a very serious one it seems, lies with just one particular section of our community, those of Muslim Pakistani decent. If I am correct in thinking that a younger generation of none Muslim British people are becoming more racist than their elders, as seems the case with young Muslims;  men and women!! Then God help us all.

Aisha from Blackburn says...

I have thought Britain to be the most liberal and tolerant of all the countries when it has come to religion and ethnicity. Whilst people may have lead parallel lives 30/40 years ago, today it is a very different story. People are more educated and have integrated into the system be it in the workplace, schools, colleges and universities. I believe it is ignorance that makes people afraid. Muslims follow a religion which guides them through their lives, teaches them right from wrong, good from bad, and teaches tolerance and respect. The teachings also include guidelines on how to dress, act and behave - all manners and etiquette which assist the Muslim in becoming a decent human being. What is wrong with that? If my religion is teaching me all these good things, ie, how to be a model citizen, but in order for me to become that citizen I have to observe certain guidelines in respect of the hijab etc, what harm am I doing? (hijab wearing family solicitor working in a predominately white firm)

Marie from Nelson says...

Watching the debate tonight tells me more than ever we need the Muslim people to talk more about their faith and how they understand their belief, especially Sharia Law. This law needs more air time as this defines how a Muslim has to live, we as non Muslims need to understand this well because this "enlightenment " will at last confirm that as Muslims they are required by this law to separate themselves from the Kuffar as we non Muslims are called. This has to be addressed and acknowledged before  ANY debate can move forward. I look forward to this time with great anticipation.

Andy from Blackpool says...

This is Great Britain a Christian Country when in Rome do as the Romans do I have travelled the world and the Brits abroad have to abide by the country laws so why not here. We fought a war to release this type of oppression to women. It is a disgrace to all our soldiers and those families who lost family that they go around covered from head to foot.

Dave from Morecambe says...

The BBC are encouraging parallel lives by broadcasting Asian networks, this does not aid integration

Pauline from Rossendale says...

I work with Muslims, thanks to the government 'job sharing' , nearly all the Asians at my place of work now work two and a half days instead of a full weeks work. Why? less work, less tax, more family credit, less national insurance and more time to spend working in the the takeaways our town is full of or in the restaurants they own. No whites can afford to work half a week. They are laughing all the way to their banks.

James from Preston says...

I live in a street where there are Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Catholic and non-catholic Christians who are European and Afro-Carribean. We all accept each other for what we are and don't try to impose our beliefs or practices on each other. We all celebrate Christmas, Eidd and other festivals. Does this mean we are multi-cultural or parallel or simply tolerant?

Anon from Burnley says...

As a joiner in Burnley I have to deal with the planning of buildings and just to prove there are two societies in this country the council would not pass a garage door with 6 panels because it was not in keeping with the area but will allow a hideous green dome on top of a mosque. If that’s in keeping with the area then I’m a monkeys uncle. This country has to start looking after the true British people and stop pandering to the immigrants no matter how long they have lived in this country. A German Shepherd dog does not become and British Shepherd dog because it’s born in Britain, stop offending me and many other people in Britain by grouping us together.

Wayne from Burnley says...

In Petrol Stations motorcycle riders are requested to remove their helmet when entering the shop to pay, for what reason is this? Should the same rule apply to the niqab?

Helen from Lancaster says...

I find that I am more interested in what Muslim women who wear the hijab have to say. Where as if I was to see a white woman in a very short skirt and a skimpy top. I think more about oh she is dressing in a sexual manner, and am not as interested in her opinion. From a white woman

Bob from Blackburn says...

You ask the question' What's it like being a muslim in the N West' you should be asking 'what is it like being white british in the N West. ' The muslims and other asian communities have no intentions of integrating. When they announce they plan to buy up areas of property for their communities ,they don't want us. I feel that I am a stranger in my own town and am considering leaving Blackburn and Britain There never will be integation and I fear the troubles of 5 yrs ago will be nothing compared to what is going to happen.

Karen from Darwen says...

It is very hard to be objective about religion when the whole country is bending over to accommodate the people of one faith to the detriment of others. We should be able to live in harmony and 20 years ago that was starting to be the case but it seems that the younger generation of English Muslims are putting up barriers that their grandparents tried hard to break down.The issue of both the veil and the beard have only become evident in the last few years since the 9/11 horrors. It seems that religious fanatics are preying on the vulnerable and easily lead convincing them that to dress in this manner is to benefit their cause. As a Catholic would I cause offence to wear a balaclava and say it was part of my religion! I feel personally that there are definitely times when Muslims hide behind their religion when it suits, and it is becoming a case that as a Christian country we have to hide our beliefs such as celebrating Christmas etc so as not to cause offence.

Michael from Blackpool says...

An uncomfortable Jack Straw appeared on television tonight. He has got himself into a hole on the Muslim issue principally because it so happens that Blackburn is one of the chosen places for Muslims to live. They would be better tolerated if they were to conform to English ways of life, otherwise there is little purpose in their being here. Those who complain about their situation have no right to expect English people to accept their ways. If they do not like their lot they should leave and return to where their lifestyle is the norm.

Kyle from Darwen says...

Muslims only seem to integrate when they want our business. If they really wanted to integrate they wouldn't use there own language in front of English people.

Paul from Darwen says...

I am sick of hearing about the so called British Muslim. There is no British Catholic parliament. It seems that everything that Asians have to say it always includes a religion... well enough of hearing about the religion and setting up another Muslim group through a council or a parliament, how about standing on your two feet and saying yes I am British just like the rest of the British society who may be catholic, protestant atheist jewish... we are British,.... bring back Britain. People are fed up of the one sided Muslim regime.

Geoffrey from Rawtenstall says...

Just 3% of the population are making big waves and I understand that it is part of their strategy to get more of their own way in this "Christian" country.  If Islam ever became a majority here how much tolerance would it show to the rest of us.  Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Eritrea, Northern Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia and more will not tolerate anyone leaving Islam and becoming Christian, they do barbaric things to those who do. If British Muslims want to get credit amongst the British they should make loud noises about the persecution of Christians in Muslim dominated countries.

Paul from Preston says...

I think the way tension is created in most north west towns is the extremely concentrated areas of Muslim communities. This is a clear sign that many Asian families are going with some notion of "safety in numbers". This has been no excuse over generations and is the opposite of what Muslim communities need to do to be seen as more integrated. You never see whole streets of Spanish people, rientals, black people or any other type of race.

Kaz from Brierfield says...

I am a 22 year old British Asian. I was the victim of a racially motivated assault by white youths, I was assaulted twice in one day by the same males, however that still does not make me feel less patriotic, I feel that our foreign policy is the cause of tensions that exist today. Terrorism was here before 9/11 and 7/7 the IRA for example. The UK does not face a threat from outside the country but a severe backlash from Muslim communities who are constantly being segregated because of their culture and religion. Politicians such as Jack Straw did nothing to help race relations but added fuel to the fire. The veil and terrorism is barely scratching the surface of life in the North West. Multi Culturalism only works a certain way, when people understand each other and respect each other for who we are, if Jack Straw wants this then he needs to understand the feelings of these women, otherwise he is the barrier to communication between multi-cultural society.

Rukhsana says...

I don't think there's been a main problem of multi-culturalism. I work at school and mix in with both white and asian students. Being honest i get on with majority of them. Yes! There might be one comment or two from some but that's because they don't know me. It's a matter of educating yourself and taking the right approach. Majority of us in this society don't even know our rights never mind about each others faith. You say the veil is a barrier please tell me how is it when in the first place majority have never spoken to a lady with a veil. I work with children with disabilities they don't have a problem with me Ii wonder why someone who understands very well has. In my opinion nowadays is that people just like to pick on things and to play around with.

Andrew from Blackburn says...

Jack Straw has simly said what most British people are thinking, why wear the veil in this country? It's another way of saying 'them and us' the Muslims are doing a good job of driving a wedge between communities take for example what happens when Asians move into a white area, the whites cannot get out fast enough and within a year or so it has become Asian only, this is reality I don't think that either side wants to mix there are language and cultural barriers that people simply don't mix and if anyone speaks up they are seen as 'racist' one thing is for sure if people cannot have their say the tension just build and builds and then you have an explosive situation it was seen in Oldham and Burnley and I'm afraid we may see it again in other towns and cities if the veil and other cultural garb are worn.

Kathleen from Blackpool says...

Change is required on both sides.  We have to be willing to accept that people will want to come to this country to improve their economic prospects.  Many immigrants have skills which have been lost in this country.  If they want to work and be productive members of our community then I welcome them, and am willing to learn about their culture.  However, they must also be willing to integrate, adapt, and, most importantly, learn our language.  If we can't communicate with each other then integration is difficult.  I taught English to a young Muslim man from West Africa.  He was charming, polite, and most willing to learn, which made him popular with all the other students.  Many years ago my grandfather was an immigrant.  He found it difficult to get work because of his nationality and his religion.  He was considered to be inferior.  He was Irish.  Racism isn't something new, it just changes with the generations.

Salim from Blackburn says...

I think what everybody is forgetting is that YES we are living separate lives in a lot of ways but it is culturism and not religion that we should be looking at, cultures are different not religion, along Whalley Range in Blackburn which is very heavily populated by Asians 98% even though they are Muslims there are so many different cultures amongst them it's unbelievable, and that is what we should be targeting not Islam or Muslims, Islam is very clear in what it preaches, "to be a proper Muslim you should love thy neighbour no matter what religion they are"

Ben from Southport says...

I'm a security officer, many of my colleagues are Asian or African Muslims. I personally have no problem at all with the lads, and in many cases even get on much better with them. I don't care what religion a person is, it's not my problem. I spend many hours talking about our different cultures. I believe the more we all try to understand each other the better the world will be.

Gary says...

It's OK to talk about integration as far as I can see one of the main problems is it's one way traffic we can't put lights etc up in towns to celebrate Christmas in case it offends! People forget we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ! We are told not to display the England flag when the world cup was on in case it offends! We are told we can't wear a cross visible in case it offends! Our heritage and religious beliefs are being eroded.

Mark from Blackburn says...

I don't know what Jack Straw means when he says that we'll soon be living parallel lives, it's been that for as long as I can remember in Blackburn. Asians live in their areas and white people live in theirs. Another thing that I have noticed is that since Jack made his observations about the veil there have been more than ever in Blackburn, are the women who wear them trying to make a point like the school teacher from Yorkshire who was told to wear the veil?

George, 11, from Leyland says...

I don't think we do mix, in my town Leyland i dont know any muslims. But in Chorley they stay in one area.

Ron from Blackpool says...

It does not work. They want all their so called " Rights " but want us to fit in with their way of life under their rules which are not compatible with the British way of life.  It does not say anywhere in the Koran that they must wear the Niqab , this is being done so that they can push the envelope to see what they can get away with and undermine the Christian way of life of this country.

Imy from Nelson says...

Even though there are several cultures within today's British Society, from my experiences I can honestly state that importance of different cultures, races, and ethnicitiy have been ignored and most can not learn to get on with one another with mutual respect.

Mr Heap from Accrington says...

As part of a country like the UK with so many cultures taking part in everyday life there has to be some give and take. Yes that means that some cultures and religions will have to lose out but that's what happens when times change, and everybody has to be involved and be able to work and live together. Faith cannot be followed word for word as this would lead to chaos and so would I be forgiven if I followed my religion and used an eye for an eye as my defence. No I don't think so. Yes muslims have rights to wear their veils but only when it is practical and only when they will fit in with the other cultures of the UK. Surely if a motorcyclist has to remove his helmet before entering a shop for identity purposes why then should somebody else in the same place be able to freely walk into the same shop and not show anything but their eyes. This is not socially adequate in this day and age and things must change to suit us all. I have great respect for the muslim religion and feel they do a better job than most faiths at sticking together and playing a part in the community but we all must remember what ever religion we are there are other people with different faiths in the same community as us.

Sajid from Blackburn says...

This issue can be as complicated as you want it to be or as simple as you want it to be. There is no question of a divide here. People should be allowed to wear what they want. And people can comment about it how they want. The best course of action would be for people to ignore what others comment about dressing. Jack Straw simply voiced his opinions which he is entitled to like any other person. He did not tear the veil off the face of anyone. People should have simply ignored his comments. There are more pressing matters to attend to than discussing veils and multi-culturalism.

Barry from Chorley says...

The whole issue concerns muslims never intending or wanting to integrate into British society. Stop hiding behind religion.

Tasneem from Blackburn says...

I am a british asian (muslim), and in recent years I have noticed there is a change between both communities. Although I do not wear the niquab or any of the religious clothing instead I'm in my jeans most of the time, I have noticed a dramatic change within communities. many people, not all now look at us in a different way all because of skin colour as there is nothing else which chances me to a white person. Now people will call you racist names and give you horrid looks just because you're a different colour to them and are a different race. Now I have to say times are changing as well as people and their views. I don't see how I'm any different to any other 21 year old, the only exception might be that I am a different colour to them and follow a different religion, other than that I believe we are all equal.

G. Almond from Blackburn says...

If you think the veil issue caused a row just wait until the government tells Muslims that they should not fly to Mecca or to visit relations.

John from Nelson says...

I have lived in this area all my life, Nelson is approx 50/50, muslim/non muslim. the community lives completely parallel lives. There is real tension in the town with muslims/non muslims barely tolerating each other, scratch the surface and you will find hatred on both sides.

Jeff from Thornton, Cleveleys says...

I give central heating grants to most of North West, & 99% are asian that don't work & are on benefits. I am not racialist at heart but I feel really grieved that the asians get every benefit going because of their religion.

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