zaterdag 17 april 2010


Happy Hour in London Docklands, a first spring-like Friday. In front of the pubs and on the terraces along the Thames groups and couples of men and women stand drinking and chatting. They seem busy with evaluating the past day or week, or perhaps themselves.

This kind of finishing the week looks like a purely British affair. While earlier that day - at the university, on the bus, in West End – I found myself in the midst of a fairly representative reflection of the population, at this happy hour there may be some Indian and African types around, but certainly no Muslims. Of course not.

But what does this mean? This means that the integration between Muslims and non-Muslims may advance quite well but that it will stop where the consumption of alcohol comes into play. Whether you assess the latter as positive or negative, it plays an important social role.

This observation certainly applies to the Netherlands too, yet in London it foists itself more forcefully on me because there everything is more pronounced. The Muslim community in London is much bigger and more publicly present than it is in the Netherlands. And the sizes of the beer and wine glasses are two or three times as large as ours. And therewith the exuberance associated with the consumption of alcohol as well as with its abuse and its socially disruptive impact.

Maybe a good outcome of increasing Muslim integration is going to consist in a more moderate alcohol consumption.

But to completely eliminate alcohol does not seem desirable to me. That would be a shame of that exuberant atmosphere along the Thames. And frankly, I myself benefit from a couple of drinks for getting my thoughts a bit smoother, and for promoting my self-evaluation. I fancy.