Muslim leaders hit back at Cameron on extremism
What they are saying about Cameron's big speech on the failures of British multi-culturalism
David Cameron's bold decision to say in a speech today that Britain's attempts at state-sponsored multi-culturalism have failed - and that the country needs a stronger national identity in order to root out political extremism - has provoked immediate controversy.
Addressing a security conference in Munich, the Prime Minister will argue that under the "doctrine of state multi-culturalism", different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives.
"We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."
He will say that no one who lives here should be ambiguous about British values such as equality between sexes, democracy and integration. To belong in Britain is to believe in these values.
He will blame the last Labour government for muddled thinking and for backing a state-sponsored form of multiculturalism which has led to a situation where "some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money while doing little to combat extremism. This is like turning to a rightwing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement."
Cameron - whose speech was made available in advance of the Munich conference - will say that his coalition government intends to bring much greater scrutiny to those Muslim groups that receive public money but that do little to tackle extremism.
The timing of Cameron's speech has been criticised: it comes on a day when the viciously Islamophobic English Defence League is due to stage its biggest demonstration yet in Britain, which right-wing groups from across Europe threatening to join their rally in Luton. Clashes between the EDL and anti-fascist and British Muslim protesters are feared.
WHAT MUSLIM LEADERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE SPEECH:
• Inayat Bunglawala, chair of the anti-extremist group Muslims4Uk: "Mr Cameron's remarks are ill-judged and deeply patronising. The overwhelming majority of UK Muslims are proud to be British and are appalled by the antics of a tiny group of extremists and so will hardly be pleased with his lecture on integration.
• Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim youth group: "British Muslims abhor terrorism and extremism and we have worked hard to eradicate this evil from our country... To suggest that we do not sign up to the values of tolerance, respect and freedom is deeply offensive and incorrect."
• Dr Faisal Hanjra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain: "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 at hand. 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."
• Ajmal Masroor, of the Islamic Society of Britain: "I think he's confusing a couple of issues: national identity and multiculturalism along with extremism are not connected. Extremism comes about as a result of several other factors." ·
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