Maajid Nawaz writes… We, as Lib Dems, must seek to liberalise

preambleThere’s no question that my party – the Liberal Democrats – took a battering in last month’s local and EU elections. Even my own prospective constituency, London’s Hampstead and Kilburn, was left shaken.

The Liberals Democrats are currently fair game across all sectors of society. But it is important for the public, and for party members, to know that it will not always be like this. Liberalism not only can, but must survive this.

It must survive because nobody wants a return to the pendulum years of Thatcher for three terms and Blair for three terms. It can survive because, when surveyed, the overwhelming majority of young people – future voters – say they are liberal.

But for survival to become revival, the message of what Liberalism is, what it stands for and what it seeks to achieve must resonate so loudly that it echoes across the hills of this green and pleasant land.

Our recent drubbing has many reasons behind it, none of which are unfixable if the requisite attention is paid to them. Partly, it is to do with the unavoidable political polarisation that has engulfed many countries across the world. During such difficult times the centre ground often suffers. Partly it is due to a broken manifesto promise and the backlash against Clegg for going into coalition.

But partly, and significantly, it is because people are no longer clear what the Liberal Democrats stand for; not just what we have stopped in government, but what we actually believe.

During difficult and uncertain times, people seek certainty in their leaders. If we pitch ourselves as the ‘party of split the difference’, while the public seek inspiring leadership from those they elect, then we stand little chance of regaining those voters whose main criticism against us was not understanding what they would be voting for. Liberal Democrats must embrace a clear, bold and assertive liberalism.

On Monday I attended Nick Clegg’s speech at Bloomberg’s London headquarters, the first in a series of manifesto announcements outlining the way forward for the Liberal Democrats. I was pleased to hear that the message I and other advocates for an assertive liberalism have argued seems to have gotten through: that of stating more clearly what liberalism is, rather than simply what it is not.

Indeed, one of the key points in Mr Clegg’s speech was his assertion that we need “to advance our liberal values”. Here, he is spot on. However, the examples Clegg gave in his speech related mainly to the crucial topics of housing and our economic “rewiring”. So far, so good. But I would take this further, adding social and political liberalism.

Asserting social liberalism would be a long-term solution to the monocultural ghettoization that afflicted Britain in the 1990s. It would address issues such as the Birmingham schools scandal that has grabbed the headlines this week with a clear, firmly liberal line. This would mean prioritising individual autonomy and opportunity between and across communities, rather than preferring insular group-think and cultural stagnation within communities, in the name of multiculturalism. It would mean not confusing liberalism with mere tolerance. A political agnostic may tolerate many things, including bigotry, but a liberal would seek to actively undo all forms of bigotry and empower radical progressive voices. A liberal would unashamedly seek to liberalise.

Asserting political liberalism means resonating with the very people who are the most disenfranchised from Westminster’s old-guard. It would be to empower individuals whose votes, and voices, currently make no difference to the status quo. It would mean constitutional reform, not least an elected second chamber. It would mean disestablishment, electoral reform and the introduction of e-voting.

Liberalism seeks to empower the individual. There are economic, social and structural obstacles to this empowerment. In seeking to remove such obstacles, liberalism cannot ever be but an ideology of change. So let us work for change in what has become – UKIP’s worrying rise aside – a stagnant and disconnected democracy. Last month’s elections, while they hurt us, also present an opportunity. We, as Lib Dems, must seek to liberalise. We must seek a Liberal brand.

* Maajid Nawaz is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and Executive Director of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank.

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54 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 14th Jun '14 - 8:56am

    Maajid for Leader!

  • Richard Dean 14th Jun '14 - 8:57am

    What is “individual autonomy and opportunity between and across communities”? And how would it solve “issues such as the Birmingham schools scandal”?

  • Chris Black 14th Jun '14 - 9:11am

    Perhaps it means thinking about people primarily as individuals who are residents of Birmingham, rather than as being part of a religious community.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Jun '14 - 9:13am

    Thanks for the article. However, after reading it I am unsure whether you are a centrist or a libertarian. Perhaps you want a bit of both, but it needs to be clearer.

    Regards

  • Richard Harris 14th Jun '14 - 9:14am

    ” It would address issues such as the Birmingham schools scandal that has grabbed the headlines this week with a clear, firmly liberal line.”

    Maybe it would, but I sure would have liked to have heard your leader taking a principled stance against the near frenzied , OFSTED fueled attack by many politicians on those schools this week. But there was nothing. Apparently the modern LD party can sit quite comfortably with politically motivated reports by supposedly independent agencies such as OFSTED, and an education policy that allows Whitehall to use individual schools as political footballs. Shame on your leadership.

  • Radical Liberal 14th Jun '14 - 9:57am

    On questions of multiculturalism there are two types of liberals. The first are ‘neutral liberals’. They make no claim about what the good life is. They maintain that no way of living is better than another. All ways of life are equally valid. The second type are more, if I can use the word, ‘moralistic’ liberals. They say there is a way to lead a good life. Some ways of living should be argued against. People who conform to their communities, for example, because ‘thats the done thing’ should be persuaded of the error of their ways and encouraged to engage in experiments in living and lead lives of individuality. I think the author of this piece of the second type and so am I and all real liberals. The so called neutral liberals are really just communitarians.

  • “A political agnostic may tolerate many things, including bigotry, but a liberal would seek to actively undo all forms of bigotry and empower radical progressive voices.”

    Again, what does that actually mean – “I disagree with what you say, and as a liberal I will seek to actively undo your right to say it”?

  • “people are no longer clear what the Liberal Democrats stand for; not just what we have stopped in government, but what we actually believe”

    People never have been clear about that. I wasn’t, till I joined up and saw for myself. I certainly wouldn’t be after reading this article. And our behaviour in government has gone against core liberal principles often enough that people wouldn’t believe we believe what we believe even if they DID know.

  • Stuart Mitchell 14th Jun '14 - 10:50am

    This is an excellent article.

    @Helen Tedcastle
    I think Maajid is lamenting the kind of “monocultural ghettoization” that leads people to narrowly define “communities” in the way that you do. We are all one community, made up of autonomous individuals.

    As we’ve seen in the Birmingham threads this week, there are too many liberals prepared to give a license to act illiberally to certain sections of society; as if criticising the illiberality of some is an inherently more illiberal act than the illiberality that’s being criticised. That’s a fundamentally wrong-headed approach.

  • Jenny Barnes 14th Jun '14 - 11:01am

    first class bafflegab. How many votes do you think it’ll get? I don’t believe it actually means anything; I certainly wouldn’t be able to tell if a future majority LD government (:)) was delivering this or not.

  • Stuart Mitchell 14th Jun '14 - 11:14am

    @Richard Harris
    “Apparently the modern LD party can sit quite comfortably with politically motivated reports by supposedly independent agencies such as OFSTED”

    I think that’s an unwarranted slur on the professional integrity of the Ofsted inspectors, whose names are printed in the report for all to see (not that many people here seem to have looked at it). The report is balanced and entirely evidence-based.

  • Maajid Nawaz says —
    ” A political agnostic may tolerate many things, including bigotry, but a liberal would seek to actively undo all forms of bigotry and empower radical progressive voices. ”

    Nick Clegg says —
    ” I support The Sun. “

  • I have just posted a comment with a direct quote from the article above by Maajid Nawaz.

    By way of contrast I followed this with the following words — Nick Clegg says -” I support The Sun ”

    For some reason my comment has not been allowed by the software …. How odd.

  • Chris Manners 14th Jun '14 - 11:39am

    Majid’s had a few problems recently.

    http://homoeconomicusnet.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/quilliam-foundation-dfe-funding-and-ramadan-foundation/

    Less than frank about funding. Or alternatively, hopelessly imprecise and not very bright.

  • Stuart Mitchell 14th Jun '14 - 12:03pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    You might want to go back and re-read the exchange that led to you unfairly calling me “offensive” last week for starters!

  • Daniel Henry 14th Jun '14 - 2:20pm

    I read this post as call to promote liberalism within communities.
    Sometimes the “liberal” position has been to treat a community as a whole, suggesting that if the “community” as a whole seems happy then we should butt out and let them manage their own affairs. However, that doesn’t necessarily protect the rights of people within that community, and can sometimes lead us to wrongly assume that certain vocal members speak for a community as a whole.

    Maajid seems keen to remind us that we can’t assume that certain “communities” are of homogenous people that fit into boxes, and that we need to promote the rights of the individual to be themselves, even if it runs counter to the norms of their designated “community”.

    I thought Radical Liberal summarised the point quite well in his comment.

    I agree that it’s the position that the Lib Dems should take, but how that should translate into national government policy is another matter.

    If Maajid is reading these comments, then a follow up with some ideas of how this could translate into policy would be helpful.

  • Daniel Henry 14th Jun '14 - 2:29pm

    As one suggestion, I’ve always thought that schools in general should adopt the following rule in religious education, that it must be to teach students [i]about[/i] religious beliefs rather than dictating [i]what[/i] they should believe. The emphasis should be providing them with insight to all the different beliefs with an emphasis on being encouraged to work out their own beliefs rather than have them dictated to them.

    I think most schools, including most faith schools, already do this.
    Such a rule would more be about tackling fundamentalist-run schools on the fringes, like the schools that follow an ACE curriculum:
    http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/what-is-accelerated-christian-education/

  • Daniel Henry 14th Jun '14 - 2:30pm

    I’m [i]sure[/i] italics tags used to work on this site.

    perhaps with pointy tags?

  • Maajid has put forward some specific proposals:

    Firstly, “A political agnostic may tolerate many things, including bigotry, but a liberal would seek to actively undo all forms of bigotry and empower radical progressive voices. A liberal would unashamedly seek to liberalise.”

    Secondly, “Asserting political liberalism means resonating with the very people who are the most disenfranchised from Westminster’s old-guard. It would be to empower individuals whose votes, and voices, currently make no difference to the status quo. It would mean constitutional reform, not least an elected second chamber. It would mean disestablishment, electoral reform and the introduction of e-voting.”

    On the first point, I assume this means overtly championing liberal values – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, liberal democracy – and actively challenging racist or extremist views whether they emanate from the far right, conservative Islam or elsewhere in society.

    On the second – an elected second chamber and electoral reform are long-established libdem policy. The AV referendum has probably kicked voting reform for Westminster into the long grass for a time and our focus should turn to PR for local elections. Support for disestablishment has waxed and waned over time among the religious communities, the general public and Liberals. The introduction of e-voting should be a natural progression from individual voter registration and a technological innovation that the party should be seeking to progress.

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Jun '14 - 5:31pm

    @ Radical Liberal,
    Thank you for helping me to understand that I am a ‘moralistic liberal’.

    As a female from a family that allowed me to be what I wanted to be, and do what I wanted to do, I am glad thatI can now still consider myself a liberal of sorts, despite believing that all individuals have the right to freedom from conformity, including the right to non- conformity to family or community norms.

    Gosh, one can really get oneself in a twist trying to explain why one feels that a freedom from conformity should be applied to the individual not the community.

    @ Helen,
    I greatly respect your views and the cogent way that you argue them, but on this we seem to have a divergent opinion . I am writing my view on here, having adopted a self imposed silence on the subject in other quarters for fear of giving support to the ideology of the political far right.

  • Daniel Henry 14th Jun '14 - 8:24pm

    I think we’re mostly in agreement Helen. I’d just like to highlight that I also said:

    I think most schools, including most faith schools, already do this.
    Such a rule would more be about tackling fundamentalist-run schools on the fringes,

    The issue of independent schools is thornier, but I think we should at least demand this rule for all state-funded schools (which, as you correctly point out, would not affect most modern faith schools as they already do it) as I think there are a fair few that flout this rule, especially amongst free schools and academies that have been permitted to eschew the national curriculum.

  • Radical Liberal 14th Jun '14 - 9:20pm

    Helen,
    If you want to call a case for lives to be led which are individualistic, resolve around questioning, where people engage in experiments and where eccentricity is a good not a bad thing,’ a western secular value’ ok but I’d prefer to call it a liberal way of living and if is it the former so what? I also never argued for imposing values on others – I used the word persuade.

    However, I am against people imposing their values on other individuals and that includes parents doing it to their children. Children are not their property – i am not a libertarian after all. Why label children as Muslims etc and talk of ‘their’ dietary requirements? They are children and should be given the space to think about such issues of religion etc so they can make up their own mind. They can hardly do that if their school is basically used as a way for parents to reinforce THEIR beliefs onto these other individuals who happen to be their children. Schools should be about, amongst other things, coming into contact with new ideas and not as a forum in which views of others, who have too much power over their lives, are reinforced. As liberals we should disperse power not concentrate it.

    I am sure there are some people in religious communities who are not oppressed. But what about those who are? You talk about how faith communities see themselves. However, is this really a good way to look at the issue? Many of those who speak for such communities tend to be elderly males so I take what they say about ‘their’ community with a pinch of salt. Plus even if, for example, women in such communities say all is fine etc how much weight should we attach to this? If they know no other (remember, opportunities for having their views challenged when at school were limited) do they really possess autonomy?

    I dislike you talk of faith communities bringing up children as they see fit. I am not interested in how a community views this ( read: elderly males), what matters is the interests of the children.

    I am all for diversity – I did, after all, talk about experiments in living – but its a shame many of the communities you defend would snuff out diversity as soon as it reared its head. Try being gay in an orthodox jewish community for example. Diversity is not having one community subscribing to X and another to Y and another to z. That’s just a set of ghettos. Real diversity is about setting individuals free to pursue their own lives, encouraging people to go against the herd even if such encouragement is, heaven forbid, western. As liberals we should follow our preamble and fight conformity. Yes, we have reason to fear the state but we also have reason to fear communities who often hold a much tighter grip on individuals than states do – they get into places where states can’t go.

    You talk about faith communities and LEAs etc and dialogue between them. All this sounds great. But I am interested in the voices we don’t hear – women, children, gay people in such communities etc. I don’t want to impose values on others but I do wish to pursue a strategy of argument and debate being able to say, for example, you can’t have halal and kosher food because of animal welfare issues and do this without being labelled a racist. In any case we ‘impose’ values on others all the time. Let’s hope some faith community doesn’t opposes taxes or we might have to impose tax on them. Ultimately, I just want the law to apply to everyone without exception. I don’t want exemptions on the basis of faith. I think its discrimination otherwise. Is it imposing a value on others if we, for example, ban halal and kosher, if it is at least it will be imposed on all and we have equality before the law.

  • Daniel Henry 14th Jun '14 - 10:37pm

    Helen, sounds like you’re also one of Racial Liberal’s “moral liberals”.

    All the things you felt should be defended for these communities, e.g. their rights to choose how to dress and their dietary requirements, are things that are protected under British secularism. (within reasonable boundaries ofcourse)

    When it came to things that clearly broke our values (honour killings being an extreme example) you agreed that such things were unacceptable.

    I think the debate becomes more interesting on the less extreme examples, e.g. gender segregation in a school. We decided that gender segregation is sexist and wrong. If a community claims it’s part of their culture to segregate, should we make an exception for them, or should we “force our values” on them?

    I’m personally of the opinion that where we’ve decided that something is wrong, exceptions shouldn’t be made for “different culture”.

  • Daniel,

    Although I agree with your sentiments, I think you are mistaken when you use single sex schools as an example. I am pretty sure there still are single sex state schools.

  • Daniel Henry 15th Jun '14 - 2:11am

    Lol… Fair point.

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Jun '14 - 12:19pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    “On alleged forcing of girls to sit separately from boys. Girls and boys sitting together happens in ALL schools. Anyone who works with children knows that the genders actually prefer to sit together – girls with their girl friends and boys with their mates. Quite often I would impose my rule on girls and boys sitting together not for ‘equality’ reasons but that way there was a lot less chatting in class!”

    But that’s not anything like what is alleged to have taken place at Park View, is it?

    From the Ofsted report on Park View :-

    “Boys and girls are taught separately in religious education and personal development lessons. In a mixed-sex school, this is a missed opportunity for girls and boys to share opinions and discuss together some important matters that are part of their daily lives.”

    “…girls who spoke with inspectors say that some staff overreact or actively discourage them from speaking to boys and from participating in extracurricular activities, both on and off the academy site.”

    Some girls from Park View had this to say to Sky News :-

    “Our school is too extreme but not in a terrorist way. They are strict with us and they use religion as an excuse. Basically they don’t let boys and girls mix. If they see you talking to a boy they will call your parents or come to your house, which they did to a lot of people.”

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 15th Jun '14 - 12:40pm

    ”Last month’s elections, while they hurt us, also present an opportunity. We, as Lib Dems, must seek to liberalise. We must seek a Liberal brand”, says Maajid.
    Agreed. But Maajid also addresses, as do comments, that there are variations in the importance members give to both major and minor policies within the Party. During the long decades of being a minor party in opposition I thought we had sorted out our red lines very clearly. But apparently, not so when in Coalition Government.

    In my opinion we must take care that ‘the brand’ can encompass all our membership sectors. It’s NC’s sector of the brand which has alienated so many – even though his is clearly a part of the brand. The most important issues for any party must include a leader who supports the brand as a whole. That’s where the consultation and listening to all of us comes in as a first priority [via party committees etc]. Does NC do that satisfactorily? Is enough effort made to do so?

  • Daniel Henry 15th Jun '14 - 3:13pm

    Again Helen, I think we largely agree more than we disagree, although sometimes I feel your interpretations of the positions of those you debate with are much more negative than they need to be.

    If in some schools girls are forced to the back of the class, this is a cultural imposition by one of the socially conservative governors which should be stopped and can easily be stopped – it is NOT a sign of Islamist extremism.

    No one was saying it was a sign of Islamist extremism, just that it was unacceptable and that the social conservatives shouldn’t be allowed to use “cultural sensitivity” as an excuse. It seems that you agree with us when you say “it should be stopped”.

    I am definitely not a supporter or defender of ‘British secularism’ ie: those who are agitating for strict banishing of religion to the private sphere

    That’s not what I meant when I said “British Secularism”. 🙂
    What I was more referring to is what we more or less have now, where people largely have the right to their own beliefs/practices without state interference and where the state tries to be fair and neutral in how it deals with belief systems rather than favouring one of others.

    I really do think that 90% of the debate is trying to persuade you that my position isn’t as negative/extreme as you seem to interpret it! 🙂

  • SIMON BANKS 15th Jun '14 - 4:22pm

    Our constitution refers to our values of liberty, equality and community. I’m reminded by people who grew up in mining villages and the like that communities can be illiberal and intolerant of difference. But in Europe of the 21st century, few people are stuck in one community with no way out and we belong to multiple communities – of place, of interest, of commitment, “real” and virtual.

    In some minority communities where many do not speak English and nearly all the residents in a group of streets belong to the same ethnic and religious groups, there is a real danger of oppression and extremism. The answer is not to ditch the idea of community, but to promote cross-community links and membership of different communities – the local allotment society, the Liberal Democrats, fans of a football club, groups based on old or young age, campaigners on local single issues.

  • What does it mean to liberalise something. I resigned from the Party when they were in coalition in Scotland with the Labour Party and they voted to make the prostitution tolerance zone s illegal. When I asked certain Scottish Lib Dem leaders about this they told me that men who used prostitutes should not be getting off scot free.

    Is this Liberal? I really don’t know. Is allowing people to use cannabis liberal? I would say it is but all the local lib dems I spoke to were dead against it and the party leadership is against it.

    What exactly do you want to liberalise? Capital and the Markets? That’s been done already and caused the 2008 crisis.

    It seems to me that I can’t get an answer. This leads me to believe that the party has no purpose and therefore has no need to exist. As someone who once delivered leaflets for the party I now can’t even be bothered to vote for them

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Jun '14 - 7:52pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    I think a lot of people would feel that teachers going to parents’ houses to tell them that their child has been mingling with members of the opposite sex is going beyond “social conservatism” in 2014. You say that people are conflating social conservatism with extremism, but I think the boundary between the two is blurred.

    To give another example: it has been claimed that a primary school banned music because governors considered it un-Islamic. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but if it is, how would you classify that – social conservatism, or extremism?

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Jun '14 - 10:36pm

    I think you need to differentiate between violent extremism (what you’re talking about) and what most people would understand by the word extremism, which would not necessarily be violent.

    I’m not sure that there have been any accusations of violent extremism levelled at the Birmingham schools. There is the issue of the “extremist” preacher who was invited to talk to a school assembly, who allegedly has said some pro-violent things elsewhere but not at the actual school. However, I watched one of this man’s lectures on Youtube, on the subject of how Muslims should relate to non-Muslims, and in that video he came across as the very opposite of pro-violence – quite inspirational, in fact.

    The government has an “official” definition of extremism, apparently, which falls short of requiring incitement to violence :-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27777892

  • jedibeeftrix 15th Jun '14 - 10:42pm

    “the government defines extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

    Good quote.

    I am quite happy this trojan horse scandal has emerged, it might represent the moment when in 20 years time we’ll say that was the day normative mutliculturalism died in britain.

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Jun '14 - 2:27pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle,
    I respect your opinions greatly and I wish that my children had had teachers as caring and sensitive as yourself, so I am interested in your opinion on this. What was wrong with the assimilation and integration approach that we used to have?

    In my youth, when the ideology was the ‘melting pot’ we were at liberty to adopt children of different backgrounds and different ‘ethnicities’, the ideology was integration not separation. If children chose to explore and adopt the culture of their biological parents, they were encouraged to do so, just as children of parents with a dual heritage do now. There was no pressure to conformity, children were allowed to explore and develop their own values( within the constraints of the law).

    Did this mean that we expected them and people from other countries who came here to adopt liberal democratic values? Yes I suppose it did, but what is wrong with that? Part of those values is allowing people to eat as they wish and dress as they wish., to dance in the street if that is their thing. It is not those with liberal views who try to impose these strictures on people.

    Multiculturalism seems to me to have had the opposite effect and I just don’t understand how anyone can say that it it intolerant to stand up to intolerance cloaked in cultural or religious belief.

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Jun '14 - 2:42pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle,
    I forgot to mention, that I don’t think anyone cares whether the Trojan Horse’ letters were a hoax. What the letters have done, is open up a well of deep anxiety in our society that must be addressed. If it is not addressed by Liberals and liberals, this anxiety will be exploited by the extreme Right.

  • @Daniel Henry
    Sometimes the “liberal” position has been to treat a community as a whole, suggesting that if the “community” as a whole seems happy then we should butt out and let them manage their own affairs.

    Do we ever that that attitude with what right-on people presumably refer to as the white community?

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Jun '14 - 8:42pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    I think your definition of “extremism” is very narrow, and this is where your whole social conservatism vs extremism argument breaks down. The definition in common parlance (see BBC article I linked to) is not restricted to violent extremism. I suspect most people would indeed consider the banning of music and art to be pretty extremist. Saying that “most people are not Muslim” is beside the point, because I’m sure most Muslims would view a ban on music in the same way that I do. (I’ve just been watching the Iranian football team singing to their national anthem and my digital radio allows me to listen to Saudi Arabian radio stations, so music appears to be at least tolerated in even the more extreme Wahhabi states and Islamic theocracies.)

    So essentially you’ve built a straw man here. When Ofsted and the government talk about “extremism” they are not talking about violence, but you are responding to them as if they are.

    I’m entirely with Maajid Nawaz. Liberals should always speak out against illiberality; no exclusions.

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Jun '14 - 9:44pm

    @Jedibeeftrix
    On the day the new forced marriage laws come in to effect, to the delight (I hope) of virtually everyone, I’d say we can safely conclude that David Herdson’s article is complete nonsense.

    (Sorry, I somehow managed to post this in the wrong thread earlier.)

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Jun '14 - 10:10pm

    @ Stewart Mitchell,

    Let us hope that the law is policed rather better than the prohibition of Femal Genital Mutilation act in 1985 and the 1993 Act that replaced it.

    Girls who have suffered not only the brutality of the act itself, but repeated urine infections and infertility will have during that time been taken out of school, visited doctors, had children where the extent of their mutilation would have been evident without one prosecution taking place.

    If you want to see the amorality of those who stood back and let this happen ‘ because its their culture’, watch the Channel 4 ‘ The cruel cut’. The worst part for me was the signing of a petition to allow Female Genital Mutilation for cultural reasons. Leyla Hussein who with others bravely appeared on the programme have suffered death threats for standing up for their rights and the rights of other girls from their ‘community’.

    As I think was pointed out in the programme, if the victims had not been female/ black/ brown, this child abuse would not have been allowed to continue for so long.

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