I’VE never met TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright, but she’s always struck me as being refreshingly forthright.
The last of the Two Fat Ladies is in the headlines after making disobliging remarks about Muslims.
This is, of course, forbidden, and she is now at the centre of a furore.
Her crime, after a tour of the country’s “culinary delights”, was to portray a visit to Leicester as the “most frightening experience of my life”.
Considering her hair-raising motorbike adventures with late partner Jennifer Paterson, this might be a slight exaggeration, but Clarissa insists she is not easily frightened.
She became lost and “found myself in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas”.
“None of the men would talk to me when I tried to find out where I was because I was an English female and they don’t talk to females they don’t know,” she wrote.
“If the women could speak English they weren’t about to show it by having a word with me.
“I have many good acquaintances and even some friends among the Muslim community, yet here I was in a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah.” Thousands upon thousands of Muslims are, of course, cheerfully and enthusiastically assimilating in British society.
Yet, predictably, she has been denounced by the Muslim Council of Britain for smearing all two million co-devotees.
I am writing about this incident because it coincides with a row stoked over David Cameron’s choice of Aussie polling guru Lynton Crosby to help him win the next election.
Mr Crosby was accused yesterday of an alleged foul-mouthed rant against London’s “f***ing Muslims”.
Aussies are renowned for colourful language but, as I say, criticism of any race or creed, except English Christians, is more or less outlawed.
Mr Crosby’s track record as an election mastermind includes four victories for Australian PM John Howard and two for London’s Boris Johnson, so he is a man with enemies. He is big enough to look after himself, but both stories suggest it’s time the Islamic community did something to polish its image.
It is not surprising many otherwise tolerant people feel as Clarissa Dickson Wright did on entering inner cities across Britain only to find themselves in what seems a foreign land.
Far from merging with local communities, many seem to have decided as an act of defiance to live and dress as if still in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia or the Middle East.
Some say that, in a generation or two, they will assimilate, as other immigrant communities have in the past. But, increasingly, the reverse seems true.
If such self-imposed separation is tolerated or even encouraged, it becomes hard not to arouse suspicion and even anger.
The good name of Islam is far from enhanced by almost daily authentic reports of honour killings, forced marriages and Pakistani child sex gangs. Nor are we likely to feel at ease with the Muslim enclaves described by Clarissa when they harbour thousands who would and could do this country harm.
We spent a decade deporting rabble-rousing cleric Abu “Hooky” Hamza. Now we seem doomed to waste another getting rid of terror mastermind Abu Qatada.
Interestingly, a few pages on from yesterday’s story about “f***ing Muslims” is a detailed account of Qatada’s “fatwa”, allegedly issued after 9/11, ordering the slaughter of innocent British civilians.
There are calls for him to be charged with incitement to murder.
These are not yellow newspaper cuttings. Last month, an NHS doctor was nabbed after allegedly leading a terror cell in Syria and holding a kidnapped British photographer at the point of an AK-47.
These are stories about Britain today, a country where up to 30,000 young men are being politicised and, in some cases, trained to fight against their fellow citizens.
True, the vast majority of British Muslims want nothing to do with such sinister activities.
But unless they and their leaders stand up and loudly and repeatedly denounce such conduct, their community will always be surrounded by fear and suspicion.