The Poles, Turks and Somalis have shown up the natives during the riots.
In Southall, west London, a crowd of turbaned Sikh men stood guard outside their temples last Tuesday night. Some held swords, others hockey sticks as they defied the looters to approach. None dared.
Over in Whitechapel, rioters were held back by 1,500 Muslim men – mostly Bengali, but also Somalis – emerging from the mosque after evening prayers. In Ealing, Monika Gnoinska, a Pole who came here 20 years ago, and her daughter Agneska, 27, decided that they couldn’t stand by and “watch these gangs wreck the country”. Armed with brooms and dust-pans, they joined their eastern European neighbours in a collective clean-up operation: “The street was full,” Monika said, “and everyone was saying, ‘We work hard, and we’re grateful to Britain for what it’s done for us. We won’t allow any more nonsense.’ ” Turks in Dalston, Poles in Ealing, and Kurds in Haringey stood up to the thieving thugs at night, then spent the day helping repair the damage.
Across the country, ethnic communities have emerged as the heroes of the week’s riots – and, in the case of the three Muslim youths who were killed as they defended their neighbourhood in Birmingham, its martyrs. They have shown themselves to be not just as law-abiding as the Anglo-Saxons, but far more inspiring.
For many Britons, who have long looked down on the newcomers, or mocked them for their Borat values, this will come as a surprise – probably an uncomfortable one. The burgeoning immigrant community has been caricatured as anti-gay, anti-women, and dangerously intolerant. The sight of Polish Catholics, Punjabi Sikhs or Muslim Turks has filled liberal hearts with fears of social polarisation, and of religion intruding into the public square.
Traditionalists suspect that the Muslim influx, in particular, threatens to destroy the already fragile hold of our Judaeo-Christian traditions: George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned the Government against taking in groups who fail to “understand our Christian heritage”.
The response to the riots should humble these sceptics. As a cluster of youths stood guard outside the mosque in Whitechapel, Josie Ensor, a Daily Telegraph reporter, asked if they had been moved to defend their own people. They shook their head: they wanted to protect their country, not just their community.
Their patriotism, which echoes that of the Poles in Ealing, is striking, especially in an area where the BNP and English Defence League boast a growing presence. But their actions teach us other lessons, too. Coverage of the riots has repeatedly focused on the damage to the “community”. This is ironic, given the total disregard for neighbours and local businesses that the mob has shown: there’s no such thing as community for the owner of the deli in Dalston who has witnessed the destruction of her family-run shop and the terrorising of her elderly father. Social ties of duty, respect, trust – if they still existed – have gone up in smoke. The only community the rioters belong to is a virtual one, which allows them to communicate the location and timing of their next rampage through websites and mobile phones.
Yet in the tight-knit enclaves peopled by Kurds, Sikhs, Poles and others, a strong sense of community does survive. Everyone knows each other and what they’re up to; and everyone shares a clear belief system. It is an environment that can prove distinctly uncomfortable for non‑conformists: passing judgment is as much part of this existence as halal butchery or carp at Christmas. But it also provides an invaluable safety net that makes the state’s assistance redundant. It is mutual obligations, not government incentives or punishments, that motivates members of such communities. Dependence on the state is largely seen as unacceptable.
Equally importantly, the alternatives to the family so cherished by liberals have never taken root: marriage is the model they live by and aspire to. Divorce is almost nil, single motherhood ditto; extended families living together are routine. Strong immigrant families support their children, but also supply them with a lifelong moral compass. Many of those young people probably recognised, among the masked figures setting cars on fire and smashing shops, their schoolmates and neighbours. Perhaps they attend the same clubs or cinemas as the hooded boys and girls running riot. They may even have the same failing grades, and struggle under the same burden of illiteracy.
Yet these children are not morally illiterate. They know that looting is wrong. They also know that crime is punished: not necessarily by the police, but by parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbours. In the familiar surroundings of Ealing, Southall, and Birmingham, social stigma turns rule-breakers into pariahs. Over the past few days, immigrant communities have challenged the British way of life. They have dared their hosts to revive their own moribund communities, to rebuild broken families, and to adhere to a moral code. Can the natives measure up?
This video shows Tariq Jahan, the father of an innocent peace loving man, Haroon Jahan who was killed in what has been described as a muderous hit-and-run attack in Birmingham on Tuesday night.
Mr. Jahan said he was helping one of the injured men, one of two brothers, Shezad Ali & Abdul Musavir, who also both tragically died, when somebody told him his own son was on the ground behind him.