Prime Minister David Cameron was on Saturday accused of reigniting the post-9/11 rows over Islam and fuelling Islamophobia after he used a speech at an international security conference in Munich to call for a more “muscular'' defence of Western values and a tougher approach to tackling Muslim extremism saying the “hands-off tolerance'' would not do.
In remarks that critics said had echoes of the Blair-Bush speeches, he said Muslims living in the West must abide by Western “values'' of tolerance, free speech and respect for women's rights. Arguing that “passive'' multiculturalism that allowed minority groups not to integrate had failed, Mr. Cameron said: “Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism.”
He proposed a social boycott of separatist Muslim groups urging Ministers to refuse to share platforms or engage with them. They should also be denied access to public money in what was seen as a veiled reference to the previous Labour government's policy of wooing Muslim groups with funds.
“Let's properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights — including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism? These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations,” he added. Though Mr. Cameron took care to make a distinction between the religion of Islam and the political ideology of Islamist extremism saying it was wrong to link strong religious faith with radicalism, his remarks drew criticism from Muslim groups. The Muslim Council of Britain accused him of “targeting'' the Muslim community.
“Again it seems the Muslim community is being treated as part of the problem rather than part of the solution,” a spokesperson said.
Some Labour MPs and rights activists questioned the timing of Mr. Cameron's remarks which coincided with an aggressive march by the far-right English Defence League in the Muslim-dominated town of Luton against “Islamisation'' of Britain.