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The response to the Casey review is divided, but it offers hope for a more united future

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Commentary on the Casey Review

As #caseyreview trended on Twitter, opinions were predicatbly polarised.

Many welcomed the no-holds-barred approach to an issue that many, especially among those holding political office both locally and nationally, often struggle to talk about with clarity or confidence.

But there was no danger of that happening as soon as David Cameron announced Dame Louise Casey would carry out the review - and any concern the report could be significantly softened as deadlines for publication slipped appear to be unfounded.

On social media, there was significant, if not always complete, support for the report as many welcomed it as a catalyst for open and honest debate on the long-standing and worsening problem of social isolation and inequality.

And in a post-Brexit Britain tainted by random acts of racist violence and economic uncertainty, it felt for many like an appropriate time to face some difficult questions on what we have become, and what we want to be, as a nation.

The report’s critics were quick to highlight its focus on Muslim communities and the potential to create further alienation among those whose belief that they are accepted, represented and able to flourish in this country was already fragile.

Some insisted the report’s observations on Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities may push some people further away from what they perceive to be hostile mainstream society.

In this context, a report on integration could have included some broader focus on the role of “majority” communities, businesses and wider economic policy in contributing to inequality - and creating the circumstances that drive some elements of minority communities to live in the way they do.

A focus on people with a particular cultural heritage was always going to be exposed to accusations of over-simplification and generalisation that could be manipulated by those who preach division and hate, regardless of their particular agenda.

But the uncomfortable details and sensitive subjects outlined in the report, along with the strong responses they provoked, could stimulate new perspectives and possible solutions to how we deal with what divides us while preserving what unites us.

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