British multiculturalism has failed: David Cameron

Cameron sets out his vision for how to combat home-grown Islamist extremism.

Updated: Feb 05, 2011, 21:01 PM IST

Berlin: British Prime Minister David
Cameron believes his country`s policy of multiculturalism has
"failed" to prevent the radicalisation of Muslims by hindering
their integration into the British society.

In his first speech on radicalism and causes of
terrorism, the Prime Minister said a "hands-off tolerance" of
those who reject Western values had failed to prevent the rise
of Islamic extremism in Britain.

He said Britain has "even tolerated these segregated
communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values",
a policy that needs to be revised.

Addressing a security conference in Germany, Cameron
argued in favour of developing a stronger national and
"muscular liberalism".

Decrying the long-standing policy of multiculturalism,
Cameron also suggested that there should be greater scrutiny
of Islamic groups that get public money but do little to
tackle extremism.

"Let`s properly judge these organisations: Do they
believe in universal human rights - including for women and
people of other faiths? Do they believe in democracy and the
right of people to elect their own government? Do they
encourage integration or separatism?" he said.

Cameron said what is needed is the strengthening of
national identity and allowing people to say "I am a Muslim, I
am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner... too".

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance
of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism,"
the prime minister said.

The comments did not go down well with Muslim groups,
some of whom said the community had been singled out as part
of the problem.

Reacting to the speech, Muslim Council of Britain`s
assistant secretary general Faisal Hanjra said the stance was
a disappointment and signalled no positive change in the new
government`s approach to tackling the problem of extremism.

"We were hoping that with a new government, with a new
coalition that there`d be a change in emphasis in terms of
counter-terrorism and dealing with the problem," he said.

"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 was quoted as saying.

Calling for tough measures against groups that are
seen as promoting extremism, Cameron said ministers should
refuse to engage with such groups, they should be denied
access to public funds and barred from spreading their message
in universities and prisons.

He said under "doctrine of state multiculturalism,"
different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives
and "we have failed to provide a vision of society to which
they feel they want to belong".

Britain is scrambling for ways to handle the problem
of home-grown extremists, a phenomenon that is worrying the
country for some years now.

Cameron said Britain should actively promote its
ideals of democracy, equal rights and freedom of worship and
speech and the establishment should make it clear enough to
all its citizens that to belong in the country they would have
to believe these things.

But, he also made a clear distinction between Islam
and Islamic extremism, which he said attracted people who feel
"rootless" within their own countries, BBC said.

"We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are
not the same thing," he said.

Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation too was
disappointed with Cameron`s statements, which it said
suggested that the Muslim community is refusing to sign up to
the values of tolerance, respect and freedom.

This suggestion, the group said, is deeply offensive
and incorrect, and that Caemron had fed "hysteria and
paranoia" by singling out Muslims.

"Multiculturalism is about understanding each others
faiths and cultures whilst being proud of our British
citizenship," Chief executive Mohammed Shafiq said.