British Prime Minister David Cameron claims a lack of collective national identity has helped to promote violent Islamist ideologies in the UK. Muslim groups complain that, once again, they are being unfairly targeted.
The London attacks left behind a true sense of unease
British Prime Minister David Cameron sparked controversy with a claim on Saturday that greater emphasis should be placed on integration in a bid to tackle Islamic extremism.
In a speech to the Munich Security Conference, Cameron said young British Muslims who found no strong, collective identity in Britain were instead drawn to violent Islamist ideologies.
Cameron's comments, in part, echoed remarks by Merkel
His statement partly echoed views expressed by Chancellor Angela Merkel last October that current policies of multiculturalism had failed and did not focus sufficiently on integration.
On the need for greater integration of Muslim minorities, the prime minister called for an end to "passive liberalism" in favor of a "more active, muscular liberalism."
This should mean, he said, that equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy were actively promoted against the backdrop of Islamism.
"If we are to defeat this threat, I believe it's time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past," he told the conference in a panel discussion attended by Merkel and other high-ranking international politicians.
The remarks have been seen by some UK Muslims as offensive
Cameron's speech was his first on Islamist extremism since taking power in May 2010. He started by differentiating between the religion of Islam and "Islamist extremism."
He said "under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream."
"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," Cameron said.
Fear of home-grown terror attacks
The issue of "home-grown terrorism" is a major concern in Britain after four suicide bombers, three of whom were born in the UK, killed 52 people in a 2005 attack on London's transport system.
The Muslim Council of Britain's assistant secretary general Faisal Hanjra expressed disappointment at the comments.
"Again it just seems the Muslim community is very much in the spotlight, being treated as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution."
Author: Richard Connor (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Sean Sinico