David Cameron Denounces Multiculturalism as Cause of Islamist Terrorism
Speaking at a conference in Munich today, British PM David Cameron identified domestic terrorism as Britain's biggest national security threat. "We need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie," Cameron said, "and that is the existence of an ideology, 'Islamist extremism'."
Perhaps anticipating criticism that his speech would fuel the fires of 'Islamophobia,' Cameron drew a clear distinction between Islam, the religion, and Islamism, the extreme and violent political ideology:
Islam is a religion, observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology, supported by a minority.
At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of sharia.
Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world-view including real hostility towards western democracy and liberal values.
It's vital we make this distinction between the religion and the political ideology.
Time and again, people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion.
So they talk about 'moderate' Muslims as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is wrong. Someone can be a devout Muslim and not be an extremist.
We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing....
The point is this: the ideology of extremism is the problem. Islam, emphatically, is not.
Cameron explained that the existence of Islamist extremism, especially among young British Muslims who are drawn into the violent ideology, can be traced to the search for identity. He condemned the policy of multiculturalism for obfuscating the concept of a common national identity, and for leaving so many young Muslim transplants with a sense of detachment from their country and a longing for greater community.
In the UK, some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practised at home by their parents whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries.
But they also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.
Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.
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.
So when a white person holds objectionable views - racism, for example - we rightly condemn them.
But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn't white, we've been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.
The failure of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone they don't want to is a case in point.
This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared.
All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless.
And the search for something to belong to and believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology.