Saturday, February 27, 2010

From the valleys of Wales, to the valley of Swat

In the post on Welsh history and national identity below, I explained how the latest waves of immigrants to our islands are adding yet more flavors and layers of identity to the mix. The British were already a complex mix of Ancient Briton, Roman, Celt, Saxon, Norse, and Norman-French, long before the new immigrants from South Asia began to arrive. Now we're just a bit more mixed. And we have some better cuisine to choose from.

The result is that few British people have an unclouded ethnic identity. For myself, this is represented in English, Welsh and Scottish ancestry. But that would be relatively uncomplicated by modern British standards.

I hypothesized about a Welsh Muslim from the Valleys who perhaps married an Englishwoman, and how he might feel about the Welsh part of his identity.

While my hypothesis was based on experience, I didn't expect to come across a parallel story in my newspaper quite so quickly.

But here it is: A Welsh woman marries a Muslim immigrant to Britain, who dies in a terrorist attack in Pakistan. In Islamic tradition, she marries the brother, but is then killed herself.

What I find hopeful about this is how much, according to the people around her in Wales and Pakistan, said she loved and cared for her people.

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