LONDON, Feb 5 (AFP) - Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned Britain's long-standing policy of multiculturalism as a failure.
He was expected to spell out his vision on how to combat home-grown Islamist extremism in a speech to the Munich Security Conference.
Cameron will signal a marked change in policy towards Britain's ethnic and religious minorities, saying the “hands-off tolerance” of those who reject Western values has failed.
He will urge a “more active, muscular liberalism” where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy are actively promoted to create a stronger national identity, according to an advance copy of his speech.
“If we are to defeat this threat, I believe it's time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past,” he will say.
It is Cameron's first major speech on Islamist extremism, an issue of major concern for governments here ever since four home-grown suicide bombers attacked the London transport system in 2005, killing 52 people.
The prime minister, who took power in May 2010, will argue that “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream”.
He says this had resulted in a lack of national identity in Britain which had made some young Muslims turn to extremist ideology. “Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism,” Cameron will say.
“A passively tolerant society says to its citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values.
“A genuinely liberal country does much more. It believes in certain values and actively promotes them.... It says to its citizens: this is what defines us as a society.”Cameron will clearly distinguish between Islam the religion and the political ideology of Islamist extremism, saying they “are not the same thing”.