In a speech at the Munich Security Conference yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said many young British Muslims “were drawn to violent ideology because they found no strong collective identity in the United Kingdom.” Instead of the country’s official policy of “multiculturalism,” Cameron urged a “more active, muscular liberalism.” Specifically, he explained:
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. The response should be a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active 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. A genuinely liberal country does much more. It believes in certain values and actively promotes them. If we are to defeat this threat, I believe it’s time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past … When a white person holds objectionable views - racism, for example - we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.”
Not everyone’s so happy with these comments: The Muslim Council of Britain said Cameron was promoting the idea that Muslims are “part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.” Cameron also made the comments on the day that 2,000 members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) held a rally in Luton to protest against the spread of Islam extremism in Britain, so a lawmaker for the opposition Labour party, Sadiq Khan, accused Cameron of “writing propaganda for the EDL.” Additionally, Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of British Muslim welfare group the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “Singling out Muslims as he has done feeds the hysteria and paranoia about Islam.” And finally, an op-ed ran in the Guardian today, arguing that globalism and consumer capitalism are to blame for extremism, not multiculturalism.