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Why Cameron is Right on Multiculturalism

8:00 AM, Mar 2, 2011 • By MICHAEL WEISS
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For a politician whose previous career was in public relations, David Cameron cannot have picked a more polarizing subject, or less opportune time to address it, than his recent speech on the failure of state multiculturalism, which he delivered in early February at the Munich Security Conference. The British prime minister’s remarks happened to coincide with a mass rally in Luton led by the xenophobic English Defence League (EDL). Liberal commentators in Britain did not fail to notice the unfortunate overlap and everywhere detected a high-frequency Tory appeal to the far right.

In fact, the first half of Cameron’s speech drew careful distinctions between Islam and Islamism and denounced  “fascist” bigotry. But then came this:

Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

This statement is far from groundbreaking and has been borne out by nearly a decade of hard evidence.

After the 7/7 Tube bombings, the Blair government introduced a five-tiered counterterrorism strategy. The first four tiers were law enforcement oriented, but the fifth tier constituted a multi-million pound Muslim community outreach program known as “Preventing Violent Extremism” or just “Prevent,” which encouraged and underwrote British Islamism as an antidote to terrorism.  Controversial from its inception, the logic of this program was best summarized in a 2009 report published by Police Exchange, which is not coincidentally Cameron’s favorite think tank:

non-violent Islamists have been seen by elements within the British state as the solution to al-Qaeda violence, as if the cure lies in the ideological poison itself. The practical effect of this has been to engage and empower non-violent exponents of this ideology who, while expressing opposition to the terrorism of bin Laden and his cohorts, hold values and views that are antithetical to mainstream British society. 

Much of the roughly £12 million ($19.4 million) that Prevent has given to hundreds of Muslim organizations throughout Britain between 2006 and 2009 has been used not to beat down extremism and help integrate Muslims into the fabric of mainstream society, but rather to advance atomization and Islamic radicalization.

Because of the way Muslim community groups are set up, with supervisory umbrellas, interlocking back channels and the same high-profile figures reappearing as the presidents or directors of various organizations, a few examples can serve to illuminate how Prevent has underwritten British Islamism.

Consider the London-based Cordoba Foundation (not to be confused with the New York group that sought to build a mosque close to Ground Zero in Manhattan). In 2008, Cameron rightly termed the foundation a “front for the Muslim Brotherhood.” Its founder, Anas al-Tikriti, is on record as saying that Holocaust Memorial Day ought to be boycotted because it “glorifies the state of Israel, turning a collective blind eye to the immeasurable suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis every single day.” Tikriti is also the former president of an umbrella organization known as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which has been identified by the House of Commons as “the [Muslim] Brotherhood’s representative in the UK.”

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