miss englandHammasa Kohistani, famously chosen to be the “English” entry into the Miss World contest last year, has spoken publically about the societal rift between Muslims and British people in England.There are several observations I would like to make over her comments, reprinted below:

“The attitude towards Muslims has got worse over the year. Also the Muslims’ attitude to British people has got worse.”

She simultaneously wishes to see the osmosis of Muslim Brit’s into English society while herself making a distinction between the two. She worries that she was only used as a “sugar coating” to help iron over the tensions between Muslims living in Britain and British caucasians, yet she self-defines as a Muslim and her opinions seem to prioritise her Muslim identity above her English identity, rather than both being of equal importance to her.

“there is this hostility”, she says, which comes “mainly from the Government”.

She blames Tony Blair for making things worse:

“Tony Blair addressed Muslims in particular [?], telling them that they need to sort out the problem within. That was a huge stereotype [?] of the Islamic community. Even the more moderate Muslims have been stereotyped negatively and feel they have to take actions to prove themselves.”

The highlighting is my own. Firstly, why would Tony Blair not address Muslims in particular? What other group should he be addressing on the subject of Muslim terrorists that he has not already addressed? Secondly, how is this a stereotyping? By instructing Muslim leaders to do more to avoid those from within their communities from becoming terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, he is simply speaking logically. If group A has a problem, you are best advised, lest you want to be accused of being patronising, to expect that group’s leaders to deal with it. I find no basis for the accusation that his instructions were in any way stereotyping Muslims. Unless she means he was stereotyping Muslims as being Muslims, in which case she has no complaint.

Hammasa feels that Muslims are unfairly treated by the opinions of English people, yet she herself received several thousand death threats from Muslims in the weeks after she accepted the position of Miss England. Several community leaders openly declared her to be betraying Islam. Yet she feels Toby Blair has no place telling those same leaders to do more to curb the problematic few Muslims who are capable of causing such destruction.

“It is not for me to answer how to get people to turn away from terrorism. The politicians don’t know what to do and I am just a 19-year-old.”

Fortunately she saves herself from sustained criticism by at least admitting the possibility that she doesn’t quite know enough to express opinions on this subject. Yet the subtext here is still vitriolic; that the politicians do not know what to do.

Call me racist if you must (I assure you I am not) but is it really, really awful of me to expect Miss. England to be caucasian English and to have spent their childhood living in England and not abroad? That, of course, is another post entirely.


2 Responses to “Hammasa Kohistani: Miss England a year on”

  1. jay on September 20, 2006 2:37 pm

    im sure your not rascist, and many people have the same response to kohistani being chosen to represent england, but if you look around you, you may notice that england cant just be represented by caucasian people, because many people, who live here, lead a very “english” way of life are not white. They have lived in this country for many years if not all their lives, they are proud of their country, and support it in sports etc, they are given british passports.. if they started cheering for other countries say in the world cup, u’d feel they were being ungreatful, yet when they want to represent their country you dont think they should???? thats hypocrisy..im glad not everyone is backwards as you, the worlds changing you have to change with it

  2. Jon on September 20, 2006 2:52 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I wouldn\’t feel they were being ungreatful if such people started cheering for other countries. Indeed, that you recognise such a situation might exist shows me that you also recognise that such people are not 100% English even if they have lived their life in England. Unless you do not agree that \’Being English\’ involves more than the legal paperwork and a matter of circumstance of birth. We\’re not in a courtroom so it\’s not about legalities.

    On the other hand, you would not (I suspect) provide such an analogy involving a caucasian English person – as the idea of him not supporting England in the world cup simply wouldn\’t make sense. That it does make sense when referring to British citizens of non British descent (and please be careful to deferentiate between British and English) says a great deal, I think.

    Thanks for your comment.

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