A speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron condemning the promotion of multiculturalism as a failure has been applauded by the leader of the French far-right party, Le Front National.
Cameron said in Munich last week that policies that have allowed different cultures to live side by side and independently of each other had done nothing to reduce the threat of extremism. He argued that “instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.”
The radicalisation of young British Muslims, he said, has been helped by the fact that these same young men feel “rootless” and “find it hard to identify with Britain.” He added that other European countries like Germany faced a similar problem. He suggested that even non-violent Muslim groups should be stopped from receiving state money unless they believe in “certain values” and “actively promote” them. He singled out Muslim organisations that were “showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.”
Other practical solutions he offered include “making sure that immigrants speak the language of their new home and ensuring that people are educated in the elements of a common culture and curriculum.”
Marine Le Pen, who was elected last month to the leadership of France’s extreme-right Front National, told the Financial Times:
“It is exactly this type of statement that has barred us from public life for 30 years. I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him.”
She went on to say that the far-right was on the rise across Europe and that the Front National and similar-minded parties had an opportunity to work together to form a common front against the European Union, globalisation and immigration.
A spokesman for Cameron’s Conservative Party tried to distance the prime minister from what many people may regard as damaging praise, saying that Le Pen had “clearly failed to understand” the speech.
Cameron’s speech also won praise from far-right groups in Britain. Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party and Member of the European Parliament, hailed it as a “huge leap for our ideas into the political mainstream.”
But the prime minister came in for criticism over the timing of his speech, which came on the same day as a planned demonstration held by the English Defence League (EDL), in which thousands of far-right activists marched, many chanting anti-Islam slogans. One opposition MP accused Cameron of “writing propaganda for the EDL.”