Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Prime Minister David Cameron today  criticise “state multiculturalism” in his first speech on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism since being elected.

 The PM addressed a security conference in Germany where he has  argueed that the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism.

What is multiculturalism? According to Wikipedia it is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities, or nations. In this context, multiculturalists advocate extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.

 The term may also describe people who have more than one culture in them (people who grew up with more than one cultural identity, also sometimes called bicultural)  

So far there are criticisms being levelled at the Prime Minister by Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation which said that, by singling out Muslims, Mr Cameron had fed “hysteria and paranoia”.

 Chief executive Mohammed Shafiq said: “British Muslims abhor terrorism and extremism and we have worked hard to eradicate this evil from our country. “But to suggest that we do not sign up to the values of tolerance, respect and freedom is deeply offensive and incorrect.

 This is very interesting as just a few weeks ago Jack Straw was caught in the fray being criticised by his recent comments on some members of the Asian community grooming young women rightly so.

 Also joining the debate was Baroness Warsi who recently said prejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test” and become socially acceptable in the UK. OBV named her the warrior in being so brave.

 What is evident here is that this is an issue which is more than on the table but it is now being chewed on as to how far it will go is another thing.

 David Cameron sets out some key questions when looking at organisations by saying

“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 equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

 This is somewhat like a litmus test, fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations Mr Cameron stated.

He warned Muslim groups that if they fail to endorse women’s rights or promote integration, they will lose all government funding. All immigrants to Britain must speak English and schools will be expected to teach the country’s common culture.

What is the overriding reason for this and what is the Government and previous administrators trying to achieve. Could it be The Promise as set out by new Labour Leader Ed Miliband who has termed his avowed dedication to society’s young people as the “British promise”, drawing comparisons to the “American dream”? What David Cameron is saying is that “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.”  

 Building a stronger sense of national and local identity holds “the key to achieving true cohesion” by allowing people to say “I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner… too”, he said.

 Is he correct and is there any merit when others will say the whole diversity of the UK is what makes us British?

 The question should be asked is what is the American dream that is at times being compared or aspired after? Has the American dream serves it purpose? Can someone safely say they aspire to the American dream and they conform or do they simple show a form of conformity in playing the game?

 Multi-culturalism has not failed in Britain one of my colleagues said, “because what we have here has never possessed the quintessential characteristics of multi-culturalism but it is  the failure of Governments to actively manage the politics of race has resulted in the formation of many country within a country”

ation of many areas which are essentially a country within a country. For once Sylbourne, (mark the date in your calendar) I have to agree with you. In order for diversity/multiculturalism to work, we have to have a common set of values to which we all aspire, which has to act as the default position regardingg human interaction. Sometimes there is commonality but the work has not been done to overtly expose it and allow it to act as a dynamic which sets the goals. Sometimes we may have a common value but cross-cultural interpretation means that the same value manifests itself in different behaviours and also in terms of what is or is not acceptable. Race

This is an argument that will rage on even beyond this Parliament but it is an important one to maintain as in any society there must be a harmonisation of values and at the same time having a sense of identity.

Sylbourne Sydial

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