The Middle East and Pakistanis in Bradford
Anu has just started the programme in Bradford, which has a large Pakistani population. The community used to be home to a thriving textile industry, but it struggled in its post-industrial age.
We talked about identity, citizenship, ethnicity. They are themes that we will explore all week as we travel across the UK and speak to Pakistani, Somali, Chinese, Arab and Polish immigrants living here. We also discussed the deepening crisis in the Middle East.
Is there something that the mainstream community gets right about you? Is there something that they don't get right about you?
And Anu read out one of the questions that our listeners sent us to ask. Craig in London asked why Muslims didn't do more to sympathise with victims of terrorism. To which, one member of the audience responded:
We have sympathies with all victims of terrorism. There are terrorists of every faith, in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, all over the world. And we must remember that it was the Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka who invented suicide bombing.
We spoke to Pakistanis in the US, Dubai and, of course, back in Pakistan as well.
Yanis Alam, a novelist in Bradford, said that it was insulting that to suggest that Muslims might not sympathise with victims of terrorism. He also said that the onus should not on Muslim's to police their communities for extremists. He said it was a universal responsibility for parents not to fall into extremism of a nationalist or racist nature.
Roman called from the US. He was born and raised in Pakistan, but he grew up in the US. He says that in the US with the idea of a melting pot, that their is pressure to become American.
Yanis said that just as British expats who recreate Britain on the Costa del Sol in Spain, many expats or immigrants recreate their culture when they come to the country.
Middle East Crisis
After speaking with the audience in Bradford, we took a break to talk about the news of the day. We spoke with Nomi Bar Yaacov, a Middle East expert who has worked with the UN and the EU.
She said that there was a solution, which had been agreed upon. The blueprint for a solution is on the table, she said.
The main problem are the militant opposition terror groups. For the first time in its history, Israel had evacuated all settlements in Gaza.
Yunis Alam, a novelist living in Bradford, said that he doubts that Hamas and Hezbollah are not continuing just 'because they have nothing better to do'. He believes that these groups were not consulted in the process.
Mohammed in the UK said that kidnappings are simply to help gain the release of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.
Anu said, "Whenever we ask about how this crisis should be resolved, we always end up here: In this long historical debate."
We spoke to a member of the audience in Bradford about his opinion. He said that Middle East has been a breeding ground for terror for many years, and that the international community has not done enough to solve the problems of depravation. He said that unfortunately, he sees a situation of where might makes right.
Rahul in Calcutta blames Hezbollah and says that Israel has a right to defend itself.
Mark in Amsterdam says that by bombing the infrastructure and setting back Lebanon by 'who knows how many years' Israel is using a strange logic. He says that the UN peacekeepers who have been in southern Lebanon should take their role seriously.
Christian Knudson in Little Rock Arkansas in the US sent us this message in an e-mail:
Resolving this prolifearting crisis is indeed harmed by overwhelmingly biased media sources in the United States and around the world. Americans are dangerously vulnerable to large, conservative-owned newspapers and TV stations that promote this administration's vigorous support of Israel. Many Americans are unfortunately ignorant of the crisis via a one-way dialogue that does not allow for intellectual exchange, but pushes people toward a visceral, war-oriented argument. Many Americans feel the anti-intellectual culture is creeping toward a curtain of silence that will make America increasingly vulnerable to both state and non-state terrorists.
Aaron Shaw in Indianapolis Indiana in the US sent us this e-mail:
I am writing to address the current ongoing fighting between Israel and Lebanon. I do not support terrorist organizations but I do wish to show my support for Lebanon as a sovereign country that has worked hard at trying to rule a country with both a majority of Christian and Islamic lawmakers working together. I hope the US government will take into consideration the country of Lebanon is not at fault, it is Hezbollah and Israel that are at fault. The US needs to support the country of Lebanon against the Israeli aggression. As the many European country's have voiced, I agree that the Israeli response has been disproportionate. It is times like these I see how people see Hezbollah as a group of freedom fighters and not terrorists.
Jacques Ko from Boston sent us this e-mail:
Israel does not want peace, she is strong, she will hit on anyone who opposes any illegal action she will do, and palestinian and libanese children who are not even born yet, will hate Israel, because the only language Israel understand is hate. Why make peace when you have guns, why make peace when you can bully everyone who dares to cry for justice?
John in Washington, DC in the US says:
The panel and most callers seem to be missing the larger picture - it is clear that Israle has attacked Lebanon for the ultimate purpose of later attacking Iran and embroiling the region into war. This is mostly due to Israel's (and its lobbying arms in Washington, D.C.) lack of success in convincing the U.S. Government that it must confront Iran militarily. As the U.S. armed forces are stretched thin in Iraq and Afgahnistan, and a US president who faces increasing opposition to his war in Iraq and has become very unpopular, the U.S. government must be pushed to war - Israel has clearly calcuated that an attack on Lebanon and the entanglement of Iran (as well as Syria) in the area will achieve this.