Dodgy Nick sets out vision of multiculturalism
Dodgy Nick Clegg backs the British PM on "muscular liberalism"
Dodgy British Deputy PM Nick Clegg has set out ‘his vision’ of what multiculturalism means in a speech in Luton.
He backed David Cameron over the need to end "segregation" of communities.
But, in contrast to the prime minister, Clegg stressed in his speech the importance of multiculturalism to "an open, confident, society".
Mr Cameron grabbed headlines around the world with his honesty last month for an end to "state multiculturalism".
In a speech in Luton, Mr Clegg said the prime minister was "absolutely right to make his argument for 'muscular liberalism'", and "to assert confidently our liberal values".
But he also attempted to strike a different tone to the prime minister Mr Cameron on the issue of multiculturalism as the Lib-Dems would open the doors to all and anyone until it turns around and bites them back?.
He said: "Where multiculturalism is held to mean more segregation, other communities leading parallel lives, it is clearly wrong. For me, multiculturalism has to seen as a process by which people respect and communicate with each other, rather than build walls between each other.
"Welcoming diversity but resisting division: that's the kind of multiculturalism of an open, confident society.
"And the cultures in a multicultural society are not just ethnic or religious.
"Many of the cultural issues of the day cut right across these boundaries: gay rights; the role of women; identities across national borders; differing attitudes to marriage; the list goes on."
Downing Street said Mr Cameron stood by his speech last month, in which he said "state multiculturalism has failed", but the prime minister's official spokesman said it was a "complicated issue" and an "important debate".
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A month on from the prime minister's assertion that "state multiculturalism" had failed, his deputy's speech revealed Nick Clegg's thinking on how to tackle violent extremism and create community cohesion.
In many ways Mr Clegg echoed David Cameron. "Muscular liberalism", he said, was the best way to tackle the root causes of extremism. Arguments need to be won and not ducked.
But there were tonal differences. Cameron said "state multiculturalism" had failed and led to communities living in isolation, but Clegg offered a definition of multiculturalism which "welcomed diversity but resisted division" and was the mark of an open, confident society.
There were other differences, including a greater focus on the violent extremism of the far right. Clegg warned that tough economic times made the threat of extremism greater and also said that banning extremist groups should be the last resort.
As the government reviews its strategy for preventing extremism, this speech is another guide to where its thinking is going.
He said Mr Clegg had shown his speech to Mr Cameron ahead of his visit to Luton.
Mr Clegg said that, as leaders of different political parties, "we come at some of these issues from different directions".
But he added: "We completely agree that if multiculturalism means communities living in silos - separately from each other, never communicating, with no shared sense of belonging then we are both completely against it. That is utterly, utterly wrong.
"But if your understanding of multiculturalism, the meaning of that word, is actually quite the reverse, that it is a means by which we can communicate with each other, seek to reach understanding of each other, share a similar set of values... that's the antithesis of the cardboard cut-out definition of multiculturalism.
"It's that move towards integration."
He said he deliberately chose to make his speech in Luton, which has been associated with both the Islamist al Muhajiroun group and the English Defence League, which campaigns against radical Islam and a right for an English voice in the British parliament Government.
But the Liberal Democrat leader said the Bedfordshire town was also the home of some of the "most vibrant" campaigns against racism, extremism, and Islamic phobia.
He acknowledged that the current economic situation could tip some people who were currently ambivalent about such issues into more extreme views.
But he attacked past approaches to tackling violent extremism, which he claimed had an "exclusive and unhelpful focus on Islam"; arguing intolerance of all kinds should be challenged by "muscular liberals".
"By treating Muslim communities and organisations as homogenous lumps to be variously hectored, preached at, showered with praise and money, or ignored, the previous government created negative perceptions among British Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Clegg had the audacity to say; "We should ensure that public funds do not support any organisations promoting violence. We must engage with religious organisations in a smart way focusing our attention on those that support our essential liberal values. (Coming from a British government that gives India £235 million pounds a year of English taxes to pay for rocket ships, nuclear bombs, and feeds its government corruptions?)
"We will also challenge extremism across the board, ending the previous government's exclusive and unhelpful focus on Islam. It does not matter if you are a far-right extremist, someone who perverts a religious faith, or someone who uses violence in support of other ideological ends - we will challenge you, take you on and defeat you."
Mr Clegg said the government would shortly announce the outcome of its review of the previous government's Prevent programme, which was meant to combat violent extremism.
He said Prevent had "wasted a lot of money" and "stigmatised" Muslim communities and "made them feel like they were under suspicion".