Integration and Assimilation

Unity is only threatened when different groups of marginalised people are pitted against each other by the government and the media. For instance, migrants are blamed for poverty and unemployment, when in actuality, this is a result of government austerity policies.

The pernicious nature of Islamophobia means that Muslim migrant communities are often framed as “dangerous”, and as a “threat” to the unity of our society. In reality, it is the increased hostility, harassment and violence targeted against migrants that threatens any unity.

Because of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, migrants are often told to integrate and assimilate. We reject the implications of “integration” and “assimilation”. Read on to find out why.

We reject the language of “integration”, “assimilation” and “community cohesion”. This is because it is underpinned by racial and religious undertones, and feeds into respectability politics. It also justifies the increased profiling and surveillance of the migratised communities that are deemed to be unassimilable.

Whilst the use of this language is often well-intentioned, we are concerned that its use unwittingly feeds into respectability politics: the idea that migratised groups have to give up important and personal elements of their identity in order to be accepted.


Solidarity with migratised communities necessitates unconditional acceptance. Leveraging the language of integration insinuates that migrants must make sacrifices in order to be accepted: that their acceptance is conditional on their ability to perform “whiteness”, and that their culture is a “threat” that must be neutralised.

Because “integration”, “assimilation” and “community cohesion” are underpinned by racial and religious undertones, migrants who do not assimilate are subjected to further Islamophobia, surveillance and racial profiling.

Instead of wondering how we can ensure migrants “integrate” into society, what we should be asking is how we can cultivate a society in which migratised communities feel safe and respected.

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