This week, I was told about a London primary school whose pupils are overwhelmingly Muslim. It isn't having a nativity play. There was a plan to sing carols in a lesson, but parents banned their children from attending. Mixed swimming lessons will soon be a thing of the past. Canteen food has to be halal. "This is effectively a faith school – a Muslim one," says a teacher.
Maybe so, but a visit to the school's website reveals that the school also has an official religion: multiculturalism. Two of the major festivals in the year are a "Red Card to Racism" sports tournament and Black History Month. And here there's no conflict. No Islamic father has pulled his little girl out of a black history celebration, even if she isn't actually black. (Many of the pupils are Muslims from Kosovo.)
I'm fascinated by the relationship between British Islam and public sector multiculturalism. We've got into the habit of thinking of the multi-culti brigade as fervent secularists. So they are – where Christianity is concerned. But they feel strangely at home in the company of Muslims whose beliefs are ferociously conservative.