Tariq Jahan’s is the patriotic voice of a first-generation Muslim migrant

Faisal Hanif writes:

Tariq Jahan has been hailed as a voice of reason. Only hours after holding his dead son in his arms, the grief-stricken father has provided hope for a peaceful resolution to a most horrific tragedy. His voice, full of pain, urged his community to stay away from any reprisal attacks for the killing of his son Haroon and two fellow young Muslim men.

If Jahan’s is a voice of reason then his message is of patriotism. Jahan is of my late father’s generation. They belonged to the first generation of Pakistani Muslims who migrated in large numbers during the 60s, 70s and 80s to find economic prosperity in the land of their once masters. For many, the plan had been to seek the riches that they could only dream of in the villages back home and return as made men to a life of bliss.

Of course, it never quite worked out like this. While in Britain, these men saw beyond the short-term gain that a return to village life with relatively vast sums of money would bring them and their expanding families. Britain offered stable jobs, relative prosperity, healthcare and the freedom as a minority to practice their faith openly by allowing the building of mosques and community centres. Their children had a chance to gain education and attend universities – a dream for many village and even city folk in Pakistan.

My father also told me that subconsciously there was also a great appreciation of the law and order that Britain had. It was a far cry from the endemic police corruption and unpredictability that is a hallmark of a Pakistani villager’s life.

Having seen both sides of the proverbial coin these men are fiercely protective of their adopted homeland. They cherish the stability and the peaceful lives they are able to live. It makes them proud to be British. In some instances, more so than their children who are born here. It is noticeable that the actions of some hardline young Muslims who turn to fundamentalist teachings are almost always at odds with the views of their parents, many of whom have seen less fortunate times.

I experienced this personally when as a conflicted teenager I adopted a deeply anti-British stance, much to the disapproval of my father. My dad would often say: “You’ll realise one day how fortunate you are that this is your home.”

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