Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Multiculturalism Is the Only Answer

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 10th October, 2011

Sectarian conflict has been a depressing sideshow to many of the uprisings in the Arab Awakening this year, the latest being the bloody crackdown on Copts demonstrating in Cairo last night. But whether it is Egypt, Syria, Iraq or indeed Great Britain, a mature policy of multiculturalism is the only answer. This doesn’t mean one size fits all; each country or situation has its own specificities. However, in the 21st Century and inh an increasingly globalised world, we all have to recognise that we live in mixed societies and that this is a healthy, enriching thing if handled properly. In London, of course, this is stating the obvious, as one third of the population of the great metropolis weren’t even born in the UK, let alone in London. But even when there is a clear ethnic or religious majority in a society, there needs to be an inclusive approach that embraces everyone, in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance. This is something Israel could do well to learn. Turkey, interestingly, is making small steps in the right direction, after nearly a century of imposed monoculturalism, though much still remains to be achieved. The European Union is of course by definition multicultural and officially celebrates its diversity. But in Europe as elsewhere, these fine words have to be put into practical action.



One Response to “Multiculturalism Is the Only Answer”

  1. Matthew Huntbach said

    OK, but Egypt, Syria and Iraq WERE multicultural societies. The substantial Christian minorities in each are not new arrivals – they have always been there, they are the descendants of those who did not convert to Islam when Islam became the dominant religion there. Indeed, each of these countries had a variety of version of Islam and Christianity, and a substantial Jewish population until recently as well. They were multicultural when most of Europe was not. Islam used to be able to teach Europe lessons in multiculturalism, the growth of an intolerant Islam in which Christian etc minorities are not accepted is a VERY recent thing. I’m afraid this issue requires Muslims to stop playing the victim card and start asking whether there is something rotten in modern Islam which is causing all this. It would be nice if Muslims living in the west and enjoying the multicultural tolerance we extend to them could take the lead in tackling the growing intolerance in the Muslim majority world. I am sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, for example, but why is it that the plight of the Palestinians gets put forward constantly by western Muslims, but the plight of minorities in the Muslim world who suffer appalling atrocities and who number many times more than the Palestinians hardly gets mentioned?

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