Embrace Our Culture Or Leave…Is That What It Is?



44 Responses to “Embrace Our Culture Or Leave…Is That What It Is?”

  1. Danya Says:

    I don’t see how my article is debating hijab?

    I really wish that the Western world would stop looking at Muslims as one monolith and realize that if a Muslim 1000 miles away does something, I have as much a relation to it as my white neighbor.

  2. Polite Indian Says:

    Actually, I didn’t mean to portray as ALL those articles as debating hijab. I guess wrong choice of word…I should have used discussing.

    It is true that all Muslims are looked upon as a monolothic group. Why Do you think that is? Could the lack of integration in western societies be one reason? Actually the issue of integration is what I am trying assess through this post.

    Another reason I linked to your post(and other posts on hijab) was that after reading your excellent post I was curious to know what you thought of this debate going on in Great Britain.

  3. Mariam Says:

    Theopinion at International Herald sums up beautifully.

    The real debate should be about the failure of European governments to address the sources of immigrant discontent – which include high unemployment and discrimination – and about the failure of Muslim leaders in the West to counter the rise of extremism in their communities.

    The public attacks on a religious custom by Straw and Blair will only feed the suspicions of non-Muslim Europeans and the sense of stigma and segregation among European Muslims.

  4. Polite Indian Says:

    Yes the real debate should be about what the herald says. But do you think the Muslim minority have played their part fairly well as far as integrating with the European societies is concerned? Do these points raised by different people have any merit at all? I have feeling there is but not sure…

    Also why do you think Blair and Straw are picking such issues? Is this political or something else?

  5. Danya Says:

    Well, I can’t really speak for Muslim integration in European society because I like in the US, but what do you mean by integration in the first place?

  6. Hannelie Says:

    Thank you for commenting on my blog, I have found your blog very interesting to read.

  7. Polite Indian Says:

    I guess that is interesting question I would like to point to the article by Tariq Ramadan.

    People live within their own circle, and their very approach to inviting their fellow-citizens to meetings or conferences is inappropriate or even completely clumsy.

    It became a matter of living an almost parallel existence by protecting oneself from an environment that was considered morally and culturally dangerous.

    They do not know how to go about it. It has to be said that they feel better in their isolation. In the end, this is the easiest and safest way.

    Confrontation with the other is dangerous and almost always constraining. We enjoy talk that affirms us in these feelings.

    In the mosque and at conferences and seminars, speakers vigorously refer to the prohibitions and insist on “our essential difference,” “our distinctiveness because of the excellence of our religion” and “our necessary distance.” They find an audience that is emotionally receptive and supportive.

    Makes one wonder if there is a conscious effort not to assimilate/socialized with the Europeans?

    BTW, what do you think about the veil issue? Do You think it is OK for someone to refuse to meet someone because of the veil?

  8. Polite Indian Says:


    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Mariam Says:

    I don’t have a problem with some Women or Men who tend to stick to back home traditions, like they eat their ethnic food and feel comfortable in their native dresses. But lately I’m seeing second and third generations are taking up their parents and grand parent’s traditions and some times they tend to be more religious than their counterparts back home. I have met quite few families where Mother wears western clothes and daughter wears Hijabs after starting college. I know western societies are tends to be racist towards non white people so maybe they are rebelling in this form. I as an immigrant can understand some resentment due to my accent and imperfect English but we can’t expect kids who grew up here come to terms with this discrimination whole heartedly. Another factor which does contribute to this behavior of conservative dress is that some parents are too wary that their kids will end up promiscuous and drug addicts like most youth around them, so they tend to still more conservative behavior into them than necessary. The most mosques I hear are run by people who never get any training of religious education and most are from Middle East and they impose their kind of Islam on simple folks and their kids. I guess the main issue here is to try to integrate second and third generations effectively by giving them opportunities in the form of education and stable jobs and more importantly treat them as an equal citizen. We know poverty and illiteracy breads crime.

    BTW, you’ve a great blog.

  10. Danya Says:

    Polite Indian, I really can only speak on behalf of US Muslims. I think American Muslims are pretty well assimilated. I mean first off, I know that I, as a person, have a right to chose my company just like everyone else does. Everyone keeps their distance from certain types of people and I like to keep my distance from certain behaviors (not so much people) such as drinking, for example. But you see ethnic groups hang around each other.. it’s just who they relate to? Why is it if I, as a Muslim, want to stick to MY circle of friends, it’s somehow political?

    But Muslims in the US have a civil rights organization (Council on American-Islamic Relations), we go to school, we participate in on-school activities, etc. Although I was active in the Muslim Student Association on Campus, I was also a senator in student government. Now I am a law student and hope to contribute to society at large with my degree.

    But I don’t see how ‘lack of integration’ leads people to think we are a monolith? It’s just silly and illogical. How can people possibly think that I, someone in living in x-state have ANYTHING to do with OBL? How does my alleged ‘lack of integration’ somehow mean we’re a monolith?

    And to answer your question about refusing to meet with someone who does not wear the veil (if I understand you correctly).. well, personally, I would not refuse to meet someone and in all honesty, I don’t know anyone who does.

    Good conversation.

  11. Polite Indian Says:


    First of all thanks for the nice words. I can agree with you that the second and third generation tend to be more religious than their parents. I guess part of it comes from identitiy crisis in a new culture and part, as you say, comes as rebellion.
    My other point you confirmed when you said that parents are wary of the European culture and hence there is the conscious effort to make them more conservative and religious.
    And of course poverty and illetracy is the key.
    I am sure that until Islamic terrorism gained ground, the Europeans never cared about anything llike this, one way or the other.

  12. Polite Indian Says:

    Due to lack of integration, the non muslims really do not know much about the Muslims, their culture, traditions and values. Also they are unaware of the differences within different sects and so on. This might all contribute in all Muslims getting lumped as a monolith. This is just my guess…nothing more.

    BTW, My question was the other way around. Is it OK for someone not to meet a person who wears the Veil? That is the whole controversy…

  13. Danya Says:

    I’m really sorry thats the state in the UK.. I believe Muslims should be reaching out, especially in these times… I’m glad the US Muslims have been doing what they’ve been doing. I think US Muslims have done a good job at ‘integration’, but nevertheless, we still have problems, like this past weekend, a lady wearing hijab was shot at point blank range and she was not robbed and there doesn’t seem to be a motive other than hate crime…

    Why wouldn’t someone not meet someone who wears the veil?

  14. Danya Says:

    oh. and to add.. I disagree that reasons why 2nd and 3rd gen. Muslims are more religious than their parents is because of rebellion or identity issues. That idea is reminescient of an article I read in the Washington Post..

  15. Revathi Says:

    I live in france where a lot of talk is going on about veil or no veil. Where I live, more women have started wearing it than before! But there are veils and veils. There are those that cover the face and the eyes and personally, I dont want this person to be a school teacher- who will verify this person’s identity? Where as, there are head scarves that seem perfectly acceptable and seem to satify most of the muslim women as adequate.
    Yes, I was always uncomfortable to talk to someone whose features I could not see even back in India. I generally avoided them and I am sure they avoided me too. I dont think the french would accept a totally veiled person be their bank teller or a policewoman.

  16. Polite Indian Says:

    I guess you missed the two links in the post that point out to Jack Straw and Tony Blair’s comment on the veil. Read them again.. That is what started the veil controversy in UK.

    If you disagree, then why do you think 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims are usually more religious/conservative compared to their parents?

  17. Polite Indian Says:

    Like you I am also a non muslim and I can personally not come up with any reason that justifies wearing the veil. That is why I am asking muslims why they think the veil is something that cannot be done away with. There are lot of “problems” that can be perceived because of the veil. Few are as you point out and what Jack Straw and Tony Blair are saying.

    I hope some muslim will come out and explain the rationale behind the usage of the veil.

    I personally agree with the school teacher episode. I wouldn’t want a veiled person to be a school teacher.

  18. Danya Says:

    Oooh I see. I do think it’s not right that he not meet with women just because their faces are uncovered. The face veil is not harming him and he needs to realize that these people belong to British society whether he likes it or not.

    I think that 2nd/3rd generation Muslims are more religious for a couple of reasons. First off, their parents immigrated with better worldly gains in mind (eg economic opportunities). They came believing that Western society is all that and a bag of chips. Some stuck to their religion, some let go, and some are iffy. Their children, born and raised here, don’t see all the glitz and glamor of Western secular society. I actually have friends who’s parents were born and raised in Syria prevented them from being religious. Anyways, that, coupled with the increasing availability of traditional (real) Islamic scholars in the West, leaves the door open to them finding something more comptible with their world view. So I don’t think it’s about identity, but truly what they believe and their priorities.

  19. Danya Says:

    edit: I mean “just because their faces are covered”

  20. Polite Indian Says:

    Interesting view about the 2nd & 3rd generation Muslims. My guess is that all the factors might contribute towards it. How much of an influence each one has will be hard to fathom.

    As for the veil, How would you deal with a person who says that he is uncomfortable talking to you if you wear the veil? Is that person wrong in feeling uncomfortable?
    Is it wrong for a student to demand that his teacher’s face be visible to him?
    Is it wrong for a company to refuse someone a receptionists job because the face to face contact is missing because PR is very important for that company?

    And another thing. Is veil a religious requirement? Or is it just a custom that Muslims grow up with?

  21. Danya Says:

    As for the veil, How would you deal with a person who says that he is uncomfortable talking to you if you wear the veil? Is that person wrong in feeling uncomfortable?
    >>Well, for one, I think a public figure, namely leaders of countries, should be able to tolerate something like the face veil. These women are still your citizens and they are not harming anyone. Although I personally don’t agree with wearing the face veil in the West, I see how they can harm the prime minister of England, or any country, just because she is wearing it. That person has the right to feel uncomfortable, but again, if you’re the prime minister, you’re just going to have to deal with other cultures.

    Is it wrong for a student to demand that his teacher’s face be visible to him?
    >>If you’re referring to the one case with the lady who wore the face veil while teaching children, I don’t see why she needs to cover her face from children. But such women are better off at teaching at Islamic schools if they want to insist on wearing the face veil.

    Is it wrong for a company to refuse someone a receptionists job because the face to face contact is missing because PR is very important for that company?
    >>In the West, no, I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to be refused a job if she wears the face veil. If it is the case she is not hired for a true practical reason such as exchange in facial expressions, I can understand.

    I guess basically the underlying principle is that women who wear the face veil need to understand the locals’ cultural sensitivities because in THIS case, specifically regarding the face veil, there is a true PRACTICAL aspect for people feeling weird about it (as opposed to the head scarf). So in jobs, I see why people feel uncomfortable about hiring them. But like I said, a prime minister should still be able to meet with someone wearing the face veil because it is not absolutely necessary that he see her face and being ‘uncomfortable’ is not a reason to disenfranchise someone.

    As for whether it is a requirement or not… scholars have differed upon this, often taking into consideration cultural mores. One famous scholar, Imam Shafi, founder of the Shafi juridical school, actually changed his opinion when he moved to another country regarding the face veil based on local mores. One famous contemporary scholar, Shaykh Nuh Keller (www.shadhiliteachings.com), a Sufi shaykh, requests that his female disciples observe the face veil when in some parts of the Middle East but actually discourages it when the female disciples are in the West.

  22. sarah Says:

    I support the ’embrace or leave’ line as well. That is exactly the stance adopted by most countries in the Middle East and it works well for them. In fact, i think that the UK is far too lenient, if anything, which has led to an absolute abuse of rights.

    Assimilating is absolutely essential and i think that is the biggest problem with Muslims. Generally, the ones who wear veils stick together. You see this even in the Middle East – i can not recall ever seeing a fully veiled woman socializing with a person who isn’t covered (unless it is a work do). In fact, i think the veil is terrible, in the sense that it alienates other people. Even i, coming from a moderate (whatever the hell that means!) Muslim family, do not have any friends who cover themselves. Somehow, it is just assumed that ‘those people’ do different things. The veil categorizes people, it segregates them, it makes you judge someone based on their beliefs and form a thousand assumptions and i don’t think that is a good thing, especially in a world where communication is so damn important.

    We (as a community) need to come to terms with the fact that all the terrorism carried out in the name of Islam has given us a bad name and we have to make more of an effort than usual to show that we’re ‘normal’. Walking around with masks negates all of that effort, it (again) alienates others and in a very subtle way, snubs many Britons and what Britain is all about to a lot of people (because the veil also has way too many negative connotations, like oppression of women etc). It is a neon sign ssaying ‘i am here, i am going to use and abuse this country but i refuse to talk to YOU people, refuse to appreciate your culture, refuse the freedom offered to me here’.

  23. Polite Indian Says:

    Your response is what I think any rational person’s response.
    As for people holding public office, I think you are right in saying that they cannot refuse meeting a veiled person. I also think that they are justified in expressing their discomfort openly.

    I must say almost all Non Muslims share your view point. It is heartening to see that Muslims like you have similar viewpoints. It is just that most non Muslims do not voice it openly and they leave it to be an internal matter to the community. I also believe that the decision to do away with the veil will have to come from the community itself. As and when we have more people like you coming out and arguing against the veil, I think eventually it might go away.

    Good that you brought up the issue of oppression of women. I have seen people arguing against the veil on the grounds that it is a sign on oppression. I have also seen people argue claiming that the veil is something that is worn voluntarily. It is a matter of choice and not a sign of oppression. Being a Muslim can you and Danya shed some light on the reality?

  24. Danya Says:

    Sarah, what is your definition of assimilation? That goes for Polite Indian too.

    Also, it seems that veil is used both as face veil and head covering. This is confusing and I admit, even frustrating for the two concepts are not interchangable and sometimes I have no idea what people are saying when they are talking about the “veil.”

    My question to Sarah is, how is the veil though, in and of itself, oppresive?

  25. How do we know Says:

    Great post!! AND the rest of the blog makes alot of sense too!

  26. Polite Indian Says:

    How do we know,

    Thanks for the nice words.

  27. Polite Indian Says:


    Assimilation to me is a mechanism by which one gets to know the host country understand its tradition, culture and to make an effort to become a part of the society.

    I read this article about this guy who went to UK and see what he found out

    In Britain, however, the burqa, subliminally or otherwise, can mean an inclination to stay ghettoised. I had visited Oldham in the Greater Manchester area in 2001 to write about race relations in this old cotton-mill town a year after race riots had erupted. To my surprise, I found whole communities of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis barracked away. It was not only a matter of holding on to their South Asian identities but it was also about proactively resisting ‘outsiders’ — which, in this case, happened to be White Britons and non-Muslim South Asians (mostly Indians). I met a young Bangladeshi tae-kwon-do instructor who told me that “mixing [with Whites] was impossible”. Considering that Oldham has its fair share of White racists (the ‘anti-immigrant’ British National Party has a presence here), I figured that this was a matter of practicality. It was when I heard a (non-Muslim) school councillor tell me that Muslim parents had petitioned that some of the government primary schools be made ‘Muslims-only’, that I was shocked. “They don’t want White kids to study in the same school as their children.”

  28. Danya Says:

    Once again, I can not speak for the Muslim condition in Britain because I live in the States and things are evidently different.

    But regarding your definition of assilimation, if a woman a can “become part of the society” (what exactly do you mean by that?), does it necessitate that she show her face? What about her hair?

  29. Danya Says:

    Once again, I can not speak for the Muslim condition in Britain because I live in the States and things are evidently different.

    But regarding your definition of assilimation, if a woman a can “become part of the society” (what exactly do you mean by that?), does it necessitate that she show her face? What about her hair? Her arms? Her legs? Her midriff? Her cleavage?

  30. Polite Indian Says:

    It was a statement that encompasses all Muslims, men and women alike. Don’t nitpick it.

    If you are asking me what exactly should Muslims do to assimilate well, I don’t have a clear answer. I don’t think there is any perfect answer to it but making concsious efforts not to mingle with the whites and constant looking down upon European culture is one reason what would cause this alienation.

    As for the veil per se, I think it does cause alienation. I have grown up in India and completely veiled Muslim women is not a rare sight. It is something that we see on a daily basis but I can tell you from my experience it does provide a form of segregation and it does give a sense of alienation.

  31. Polite Indian Says:

    Maybe I can’t put it in words what assimilation means but if you do a quick search on google with “Immigration and assimilation” you might get an idea what we are talking about.

  32. sarah Says:

    danya, when westerners move to the middle east, most of those seriously interested in living here for an extended period make an effort to assimilate. in fact, many move here attracted by the lack of crime and cleavage. so generally (unless they’re tourists), you do not see them walking around inappropriately dressed (which basically means that they don’t walk around in a bikini in a supermarket whereas they obviously do wear it on the beach). they make a conscious effort to show respect for the culture, they try and integrate, they really respect the locals (although they often criticize them too) and many try and learn about Islam.

    THAT is integration and assimilation. like politeindian said, it refers to merely making an effort to understand the culture and embrace the parts of it that you can. it does not mean that every muslim should abandon the head scarf and walk around baring all. it just means that they need to stop looking at white people or non-muslims like they’re trash and realize that they are in fact in THEIR country and respect the fact that the indigenous population has every right to express their discomfort with alien traditions and ‘masked’ women teaching their children

    many of these women would not cover their faces in pakistan, in fact i bet if half of these girls had grown up back home, they would have been very different. i think it has a lot to do with an identity crisis, and an inability to feel like they truly fit in which pushes them to the extreme.

    to go into how i feel the veil is oppressive is too long a discussion. i know it is a choice but i think it is also the incorrect interpretation of the Quran that leads to things like covering the face. there isn’t a single line that i have ever read (in the Quran) that supports the niqaaab. it merely states that women should dress modestly and not attract attention to themselves. and according to many muslims thats i’ve had this discussion with, its often come up that if you draw more attention to yourself by wearing the veil, it is better to abandon it and fit in, because the entire point is to NOT draw unnecessary attention.

  33. Danya Says:

    Sarah, just to clarify, I don’t agree with women covering their faces in the West and there are differences of opinions amongst scholars of jurisprudence, so this is not a point of contention (for me at least). As for it’s obligation in the Qur’an, that is an entirely separate issue then whether it is oppressive or not.

    Regarding assimilation, I googled the terms you suggested Polite Indian but I didn’t find anything beyond “What I mean by adaptation is the immigrant must adjust his way of life and respect the majority religion and cultural norms of the nation in which he/she chooses to live and raise their family, including acceptance of the fact that their culture may be looked upon as being strange to the majority inhabitants.” (http://www.northcountrygazette.org/articles/110705Immigration.html)
    This and the definitions that you 2 so kindly brought forth are, to me at least, too subjective to set a standard, so to speak. The reason why I think the definition and articulation of this idea is important is that before people tell others, whatever they may be, to assimilate, they should have a clear idea of what they are asking them to do.

    Anyways, instead of going back and forth on the blog comments, I’m going to just write out all my thoughts on my blog seeking to answer any questions any one has. Or you can IM me (Im So Syrian).


  34. Polite Indian Says:


    I understand that this is very subjective but even then I didn’t think that it would be this difficult to comprehend the spirit of it.

    Anyway, I would be looking forward to your post on this.

  35. Revathi Says:

    For those of you who think that islam is being looked down upon by people in Europe, I must say that I beg to differ.
    The problem with the veil is much more complicated in terms of law. In France, atleast on paper everyone is considered to be equal (unless physically handicapped). So if there are candidates who for certain personal reasons disqualify for a post (say a teacher or a policewoman) this brings in a great deal of confusion to how to deal with the problem in the framework of equal opportunity vis a vis men and women. Most people here feel that people should practice what they believe in their private life while adhearing to the values of the republic in their profession. Even though no muslim police woman is likely to actually come to work in a full veil, the mere possibility (even theoretical)is frightening to the french. Also one must understand that they have fought a lot against the catholic church to have laws (legal abortion on request, divorce, rights for homosexuels) which they consider are more egalitarian and are dear to them. It is therefore a setback for them when relegion starts to interfere in their public life when most feel that they have dealt with this question once in for all.
    For example, I cannot, as a vegetarian, make a request to the school canteen not to serve meat to my child. If I feel strongly about this, I could either take him home for lunch or put him in a private school. However, muslims in France have made requests to the canteen not to serve pork to children and because of this pork is not served in any school. Now would you call this discrimination?

  36. Thiagan Says:


    It appears to be generally agreed that veil may be all right in religious matters and may be eschewed in societal transactions. It is also agreed that assimilation is essential and muslims are not performing well on this count. The Hindu population in UK is nearly three million and they are not noticed at all; except when Lakshmi Mittal buys that French compnay. The muslims are regularly profiled for all wrong reasons from honour killings, forced marriages, female genital manipulations, wife beating to acts of terrorism. The high rate of unemployment is due to their plain indifference to education and they become unemployed and un-employable. The basic problem is the religious identity of the muslims super imposes itself on all other identities; this difficulty can not be removed, unless one becomes an apostate.

    Whether one should wear a veil or not may be a personal choice; but notice the increasing incidents of rape of western girls of 14-15 in Sweden, Denmark, France and other EU countries. Almost all the arrested are the children of muslim immigrants and where they constitute 3-4% of the population, the comprise 80% of the rape convicts. It is happening in Australia also and a top Imam argued that immodestly dressed women are like uncovered meat and only cats will eat. He advised Anglo Saxon women to sit at home and nothing will happen to them. An Austrian Imam echoed similar thoughts. The veil has come to the full circle and encompassed non muslim women also. One muslim lady was gang raped repeatedly and she has written a book and it has shaken the French republic. Another poor lady, Mukthaar Bi, a Pakistani was gang raped and she has a written a book, that shaken Pakistan

  37. Konark Says:

    Muslims are becoming menace in mordern world .

    For India visit http://www.haindavakeralam.org/

    For Muslim menace in World visit http://www.atcoalition.net/

    You will realise the Threat of Islam to India and Democratic World.

  38. Thiagan Says:


    Mariam says
    ” The real debate should be about the failure of European governments to address the sources of immigrant discontent – which include high unemployment and discrimination – and about the failure of Muslim leaders in the West to counter the rise of extremism in their communities.

    The public attacks on a religious custom by Straw and Blair will only feed the suspicions of non-Muslim Europeans and the sense of stigma and segregation among European Muslims. ”

    Thiagan retorts
    Please narrate the steps taken by the muslim immigrants to integrate; after all they have to put in 80% of the efforts.
    Did they adopt single child norms, so that the children can be better fed, educated and become more employable. The aim of the Islamic society is world domination thorugh numbers and there is no space for economic betterment or peaceful and prospecrous co existence. I have earlier cited the prosperity of the Hindu minority in UK and please tell me why you can not replicate. The welfare pay outs in Europe is the mistake; that makes immigrants unemployed and unemployable.

  39. Thiagan Says:


    “Western Muslims will play a decisive role in the evolution of Islam worldwide. By reflecting on their faith, their principles and their identity within industrialized, secularized societies, Tariq Ramadan, author of “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam,” argues that they are key in the self-reflection the Muslim world must undertake regarding its relationship with the modern world.”

    Thiagan retorts:

    It is true that there is a possibility European Islam may emerge iin amore tolerant and modern fashion and may guide other countries towards the same end. What is the possibility and is there any demonstrable evidence for that. Any muslim who talks of reforms or self reflection is killed immediately and it is further argued that outsiders can not initiate the process. Hinduism has produced many reformers and can throw out more in case of need. It is an open religion and Rig Veda says “Let truth come to us from all sides”; saint Tyagarajan sings ” Great men are there in all sides of the world, my saluatationbs to all of them”. On the other hand Islam is a closed religion; the mind closed and sealed by an old man named Mohammed 1200 years back. As against the possibility of a moderate European Islam, as quoted by Tariq Ramdan, I expect the Europe will be Islamised by sheer numbers and sharia will be imposed; and Eurabia will come to frution.

  40. Polite Indian Says:


    I hope that a more tolerant and modern Islam will emerge from the current state of turmoil. You think otherwise. Looks like there is nothing I can say that will make you hopeful and vice versa. You think that if any idiocy continues in the name of religion the world will do nothing to check it and at the end of year 2050 Eurabia would have been born. I think in addition to international pressures and internal pressure Islam is bound to undergo change. These changes will come in due course of time. At this point it is only one speculation against the other but my faith in humanity makes me believe that the result would be something on the lines of what I think and not otherwise.

  41. ksjdhfiwc Says:

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  42. Andy Says:

    I’m an English white agnostic and I happened across this blog by complete accident. I have no particular interest in the subject, but found myself reading anyway.

    If we can get cultural debates like this openly discussed in public in a similarly intelligent and informed way, the world will quickly become a better place. Very interesting. Sorry for crashing.

  43. Polite Indian Says:


    You are more than welcome to express your opinion here.

  44. Amit Says:

    For me, an Indian male living in the US, the way I understand it (and this is not written in stone), assimilation comes down to this: ideas/principles/beliefs like secularism, equality, democracy, US laws, social norms, free speech and debate take precedence over any ideas/beliefs that come from my religious, cultural, Indian and a bunch of other different identities that I carry. Also being aware of and getting involved with what’s going on around where I live – be it social, cultural or political issues – because they affect me. And having an attitude of being flexible and accommodating regarding any issue that crops up due to identity conflict.

    That does not mean I lose my other identities, but only that in case of a conflict, my other identities take a back seat for that time. For example, if there is a conflict between my religious identity and secularism, then secularism trumps my religious identity.

    If my religious identity mandates “don’t drink alcohol” then that is not in conflict with any of the US ideas/principles. I am free to not drink alcohol. But if my religious identity mandates “marry two women” and if US laws are against polygamy, then it is up to me to follow the US laws, or move to a country where my religious identity is compatible with existing laws.

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