Birmingham centres fight for free-speech and multiculturalism

33 people have been arrested after two peaceful protests in Birmingham City Centre, one against Islamic fundamentalism and a counter-demonstration, descended into violence on Saturday 8th August ; Birmingham city centre protests: Riot police arrest 33 people, Arrests at anti-Islamic protest, Police arrest 33 after protests over Islam.

The two groups protesting were the Casuals, believed to be linked to the English and Welsh Defence League, who grew out of the dissatisfaction with an Islamist protest in Luton in March against the homecoming parade of British troops who had served in Afghanistan, and Unite Against Fascism who claimed the Casuals group were hardcore soccer hooligans intent on causing racial unrest.

The violence is an unwelcome expression of the changes in demographics and the lack of discussion of these changes which the Telegraph notes 'almost no policy-makers are talking about', Muslim Europe: the demographic time bomb transforming our continent .

Birmingham is at the heart of these changes as it is expected to become an ethnic-majority city by 2026, following Leicester, and with Muslim's already accounting for 15% of the population.

While Birmingham may be on the front line of changes it is a change that Birmingham looks set to build on and should continue to revitalise the city and region. Birmingham has welcomed an influx of immigrants over the centuries and this rich diversity has shaped the city to become the second most diverse UK city outside of London with relatively good race relations which Archbishop Tutu noted when he attended the Rotary International Conference at the NEC.

It looks like there is something in the water in Birmingham, because the Anglican community has had people coming to learn mission in Birmingham, and I think the strength of your ratio of religious diversity is a very great help.

“It’s one of the positives about Birmingham.”

The maps, reproduced from the Guardian from my earlier blog show the rich diversity in the city. It was produced in The Guardian G2 23rd January 2006. (,,1690291,00.html)

There are no doubt challenges to handling these demographic changes with English as a first language and employment rates for non-EU nationals being lower than for nationals amongst issues but it is time Birmingham led by example and gave policy makers cause to champion multi-culturalism and immigration and to engage all citizens equally and fairly. This has never been more important than in bad economic times where scapegoats are easily created and the benefit of a rich diversity of people with different backgrounds, experiences and views can help created economic and social wealth. Where Birmingham became the workshop of the world and drew in talent in the 19th century it can become a hub for the people and ideas in the 21st.

October 2008 saw Stan's Cafe Theatre Company showing it's globally toured production Of All The People In All The World (World Version) show where among many fascinating statistics it showed the population of Birmingham in grains of rice and the makeup of the city, The piles of rice showing the different religions in Birmingham showed the diversity and the exciting mix of people that call the city their home.

Birmingham's ethnic mix after the 2001 Census.

Reproduced from Birmingham City Council :


Popular Posts