David Cameron has branded the UK’s long running policy of multiculturalism as failure, saying there needs to be better integration of young Muslims in order to prevent home-grown extremism.
During a speech to the Munich Security conference, Cameron signalled a change in policy towards Britain’s ethnic and religious minorities, saying that the “hands off tolerance” of those who reject Western values has failed.
Cameron said a “more active, muscular liberalism” is needed, where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy are actively promoted to create a stronger national identity.
“If we are to defeat this threat, I believe it’s time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past,” he told the conference.
His speech echoed controversial remarks made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year when she also called multiculturalism a failure, saying that Germany had not spent enough attention on the integration of its immigrants.
“What I mean to say is that for years, for decades, the approach was that integration was not something that needed to be addressed, that people would live side-by-side and that it would sort itself out,” Merkel said last November.
The speech made by Cameron was his first on Islamic Extremism, an issue that has been a major concern for Britain since the attacks on London in 2005, which had been home-grown.
The Prime minister argued that “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream”.
He said this has led to lack of British identity, which had forced young Muslims to turn to extremist ideology.
“Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism,” Cameron said.
He was also very careful to stress the difference between the Islamic religion and the extremist behaviour, saying “they are not the same thing”
However Cameron also said that non-violent organisations which present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community should no longer receive state funding , as they are ambiguous on Western values.