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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Don't blame multiculturalism

The Commission for Racial Equality boss, Trevor Phillips, opened the floodgates to this erroneous debate about multiculturalism two years ago. Like the BBC newsreader George Alagiah, writing in yesterday's Daily Mail, he blamed the "policies of multiculturalism" for the alienation and radicalisation of British Muslims.

Both men are prominent, powerful public figures and their views make front-page news. The damage they are causing to good race relations cannot be underestimated.

Serialising his book A Home from Home in the Daily Mail, Alagiah warns that what he calls race relations diktats have created "ring-fenced" communities and "may be fuelling homegrown terrorism"....

What Alagiah and Phillips have done with this "straw man" debate about multiculturalism has been to shift the emphasis away from the real challenge, which is fighting social inequality, intolerance and racism, as well as the unprecedented demonising of Muslims for what can only be described as not being British enough. Alagiah and Phillips both know there are many isolated or enclosed communities: Hindu, Jewish, Sikh and Chinese, not to mention gated white communities and countryside ones. The fundamental difference between these and many Muslim communities, which may help us understand why the politics of extremism finds fertile ground, is gross social inequality and the feeling of being constantly under attack. [Link]

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