3 Mar 2014

How to act British and keep your kids: a guide to Muslim parents

Two men raised as Christians have been recently convicted of murdering a soldier in London and as a result London’s mayor Boris Johnson has concluded that Muslim children who are radicalised by their parents should be taken into care. This may sound absurd but it’s not for us to judge British culture. With the threat of having your children taken into custody, here are a few tips on how you can act more British and avoid this prospect. It’s not as difficult as it sounds; Boris Johnson himself has managed to suppress his Turkish ancestry quite successfully and behave like a British upper class buffoon, proving that anyone can do it. So here goes:


Showing that you consume alcohol is a sure-fire way to prove that you are not radicalised and keep the zealotry police at bay, but you have to be subtle about it. For example, if the officers ask you what your children had for breakfast reply: “I’m so hung-over I forgot to feed them. I was completely smashed last night”. It also pays to be specific about the type of alcohol you drank, don’t just say “I drank alcohol” which sounds suspicious to the trained ear. Say things like “I knocked down three bottles of Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon” which will make you sound both unradicalised and middle class, for a bonus point.

Also, avoid using words like ‘drunk’ and ‘drunkard’. The British are known for their fondness for euphemisms so instead say things like ‘clobbered’, ‘smashed’ and ‘twatted’ for extra effect. Apologise mid conversation to say that you need to top up your coffee with ‘something strong’ and wink.


Pork is a staple of the British diet that will guarantee that you’re not a closet jihadi, but the trick is to never call it ‘pork’. In a subtle way, say “I’m buying organic ham from this artisanal butcher in Kentish Town, you must try it.” Develop the conversation so you can bring up the subject of recipes, and say how you like to wrap roasts with tender bacon rashers “which help preserve the taste.”

For additional effect, keep Peppa Pig toys to hand and ask your children whether they want to play with their ‘favourite, totally-inoffensive toys.’ However, avoid calling the police officers ‘pigs’ because they’re not so fond of that mysteriously.


Sexuality is a tricky area of British culture, you want to appear simultaneously open-minded and uptight but not judgmental. Try your best not to look overly monogamous but not in a polygamous way, and certainly don’t imply that you have more than one wife if you’re male. If you’re female that’s ok. Dress your promiscuity with a suitable middle class tone by indicating that you frown on dogging but welcome tasteful bourgeois swinging parties.

Say the phrase ‘marriage equality’ whenever you have a chance, and welcome the British government’s role in spreading tolerance in places like Africa.

Religion and atheism

This is a touchy subject, so you want to be alert when the conversation turns to religion. Say that you don’t believe in formal religion but you think ‘there is something out there’ and that you think ‘spirituality is important for everyone, and you tend to learn from all religions’ when it comes to that.

Alternatively, go for the full atheist experience which is an easier route but will make you look like a judgmental bigot. Leave a few copies of Richard Dawkins’ books lying around and drop hints about how ‘The God Delusion completely transformed my life. I was blind until then.’ Say things like ‘some religious people are bad, some atheists are bad. But only Muslims will cut your hands off.’ This Dawkinism is very successful albeit it will make you sound like a total dickhead.

Foreign Policy

This is a tricky area in which the radicalisation inspectors will try to get you to reveal your strong views about British foreign policy, so be on your guard. Say that you believe in Britain’s mission and moral obligation to play a positive role on the world stage but that should be left to the competent authorities. Avoid any mention of how said competent authorities have fucked up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don’t say things like ‘my Muslim brothers and sisters’ and instead say ‘the shared-human values that unite us while respecting British laws and norms.’ You’re aiming to be as dull and bland as a Clegg or a Miliband here but remember it’s for a good cause.

Finally, avoid being overly self-assured or too certain about anything, this alarms British people. If you can look confused and uncertain like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, you’re safe, but don’t admit to watching Notting Hill under any circumstances. You want to aim for the likable half-wit demeanour which has benefitted Hugh Grant significantly, and was also useful in his acting.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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