Prime Minister David Cameron, in a speech attended by world leaders, on Saturday criticized his country’s longstanding policy of multiculturalism, saying it was an outright failure and partly to blame for fostering Islamist extremism.
He said the U.K. needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism.
“Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream,” Cameron said during a panel discussion attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.”
He said the “hands-off tolerance” in Britain and other European nations has encouraged Muslims and other immigrant groups “to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”
Muslim groups in the U.K. quickly condemned the remarks. Among them was the Muslim Council of Britain, which receives government money for projects intended to combat extremism. The council said that the Muslim community was still being treated “as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.”
Cameron’s remarks echoed statements made last year by Merkel last year, when she also called multiculturalism a failure.