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UK Foreign Secretary 'Certainly Not Going to Abandon the Goal' of Integration

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right, greets Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outside Carlton Gardens in London on May 26, 2017. (Adrian Dennis/Pool Photo via AP)

Britain’s foreign secretary said the United Kingdom would persist in its efforts to assimilate different cultures, though Boris Johnson said he’s “not going to pretend to you that every individual in every community feels as well-adjusted as they should, and that is something that we need to work on together.”

Speaking alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in London today, Johnson said he’s been “struck by how often our international friends and supporters have mentioned not so much the crime” — Monday’s suicide bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 and injured 116 — “as the response: the acts of instinctive kindness by people in Manchester, the holding of hands, the gathering of thousands of people in the center of the city to show their indomitable pride and resilience, and in their unity and their determination to show that it is by coming together that we can beat this scourge.”

The bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, was born in Manchester to Libyan parents. He studied business management at a local university and worked in a bakery, and was remembered as a kid who like soccer, drank and smoked weed with his friends until turning toward extremist Islam within the past couple of years. His father and brother were arrested in Libya just after the Manchester attack.

Tillerson declared that “ISIS’s decision to target a concert full of children shows their intentions are not authored by God.”

“ISIS worships death. In our mission to defeat ISIS, we are grateful for the help of people of all faiths and especially the many Muslim-majority countries who have joined us to win this fight,” he said. “Every priest, every reverend in every church, every rabbi in every temple, every imam in every mosque must condemn the souls of those who carried out these attacks, and any and all who would assist them, and must condemn the soul of any who would consider carrying out such attacks in the future.”

Johnson vowed that the coalition would win on the battlefield against ISIS and work at “winning the intellectual and the emotional struggle as well — we can and we will, because they are wrong, their view of the world is corrupt, it is a perversion of Islam, and it can be completely confounded.”

Tillerson said that “migration of people — movement of people, immigration of people, and crossing back and forth of borders — is a significant challenge in how we confront acts of terrorism, and it is a challenge given our free society.”

“We seem to have difficulty assimilating those people so that they feel part of our society and would never consider supporting acts of violence against their fellow citizens and their fellow neighbors,” the secretary of State added.

Johnson noted that the U.S. and the UK “are countries that in many ways are built on immigration… and in our own country, we’ve had very successful integration over many decades, and we can achieve that.”

“You may not know my great-grandfather was a Muslim and he came to this country — indeed, he came to Wimbledon — in the early part of the last century, and there you go. I became — I went on to become the mayor of London and, indeed, foreign secretary,” he said. “So integration is possible. It’s what we should aspire to. It’s what we can achieve. And I think if you look at the America — the American commonwealth, you look at what’s been achieved there, you look at the success of London — I think that’s what we should be aiming for.”

“…But I am certainly not going to abandon the goal of trying to get people to identify and to love the country that they come to. That is the most important thing. When people come to this country, they have to become British, and if they’re going to live here and they’re going to work here, they must become part of our society and espouse its values. That’s what we believe in.”