British Muslims, multiculturalism and UK foreign policy: 'integration' and 'cohesion' in and beyond the state

Brighton, Shane (2007) British Muslims, multiculturalism and UK foreign policy: 'integration' and 'cohesion' in and beyond the state. International Affairs, 83 (1). pp. 1-17. ISSN 0020-5850

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After the 7 July and 21 July 2005 attacks on London the government-sponsored effort to ‘prevent extremism together’ has repeatedly acknowledged the central role of anger at UK foreign policy in the radicalization of some British Muslims. This acknowledgement has been incorporated into a ‘comprehensive framework for action’ centring upon the need for increased ‘integration’ and an effort, critically, to re-work British multiculturalism as a means to combat terrorism. Examining the history of multiculturalism in Britain and the tradition of living and acting ‘together’ that it suggests, however, raises a set of questions about the society into which integration is supposed to occur, what integration might involve and its real efficacy for combating terrorists. In addressing these issues, this article suggests that the debate over contemporary multiculturalism should be situated within a much wider social and political crisis over the meaning of ‘community’ in the UK, to which questions of global order and foreign policy are central. Comparing the ‘ethical’ basis of Al-Qaeda's attacks with Tony Blair's invocation of ‘values’ as the foundation for military intervention reveals that both seek to realize models of community through violence and a shared process of ‘radicalization’ which in both cases precedes 9/11 and which might be traced back to the Gulf War of 1991. The article concludes that debate over the future of multiculturalism in the UK is being conducted alongside and is implicated within a second, violent global conflict over community: one which is central to, but essentially unarticulated within the domestic context.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Shane Brighton
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:28
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2012 08:30
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