Courtesy of the Australian, 7 Feb. 2011, which derived the item from the Sunday Times
AVID Cameron has condemned Britain’s multiculturalism policy as a failure, saying it is partly to blame for fostering Islamist extremism. The Conservative Prime Minister triggered a bitter row yesterday in which he was accused of backing the far-right English Defence League – since a large EDL rally was held in the multicultural city of Luton on the same day as his speech. Pic of English Defence League by AFP
Mr Cameron told the Munich Security Conference in Germany that many young British Muslims were drawn to violent ideology because they found no strong collective identity in the United Kingdom. Signalling a marked change in policy towards ethnic and religious minorities, he urged a “more active, muscular liberalism” where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy were actively promoted. “If we are to defeat this threat, I believe it’s time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past,” he said during a panel discussion attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Ms Merkel also has called multiculturalism a failure, saying in a controversial speech last year that Germany had not devoted enough attention to the integration of immigrants.
Opposition justice spokesman Sadiq Khan said Mr Cameron’s condemnation of state multiculturalism and Islamic radicalisation was tantamount to “writing propaganda for the English Defence League”.
The Conservative Party’s Muslim chairman, Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, called on Ms Khan to apologise for the “outrageous and irresponsible” smear. A spokeswoman for Ms Khan said the Tories were trying to deflect blame, having been caught out by the “highly unwise” timing of the speech. Faisal Hanjra, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described Mr Cameron’s speech as “disappointing”. “Again it just seems the Muslim community is very much in the spotlight, being treated as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution,” he said.
Mr Cameron’s speech was the first of his premiership on Islamist extremism, a major concern for British governments since an attack by four homegrown suicide bombers in London in 2005, killed 52 people.
Mr Cameron, who took power in May last year, argued that “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology,” he said. The response, he argued, should be “a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism”.
“A passively tolerant society says to its citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values,” he said. “A genuinely liberal country does much more. It believes in certain values and actively promotes them.”
Mr Cameron was careful to distinguish between Islam the religion and the political ideology of Islamist extremism. EDL protesters – mostly white men, some wearing black hoodies and covering their faces – brought Luton almost to a standstill.
Marshalled by police wearing riot gear, the crowd chanted “I’m English till I die” and “Taliban scum off our streets” as they made their way to St George’s Square. Stephen Lennon, the organisation’s founder, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, told the audience: “Stand tall, stand proud, you are part of a tidal wave that is sweeping the country.” The protest ended without trouble.