Cameron’s Munich speech marks securitisation of race policy

In delivering his speech, Cameron clearly had in his sights a domestic audience, wooing the Sun and the Daily Mail, both of which, in calling for the disciplining of Muslim communities, have promoted a crude British nationalism based on uncritical support for the armed services and military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Only the day before, the Daily Mail had carried a feature attacking two Birmingham Muslim councillors, Salma Yaqoob and Mohammed Ishtiaq, for refusing to participate in a standing ovation for a British soldier awarded the George Cross for bravery in Afghanistan.)

But Cameron’s speech was also intended to send a clear signal to the United States and the European center-Right that Britain would no longer pursue different ethnic minority and race policies from its European counterparts. In particular, Cameron was showing his support for Angela Merkel and her German Christian Democrat party’s idea that security and cohesion are brought about not through integration and pluralism, but through monoculturalism and assimilation into the dominant Leitkultur (lead culture).

Cameron’s speech was reported as a trailer for the up-and-coming government counter-terrorism review and Lord Carlile’s review of the Prevent strategy. And it is here that Cameron indicated to a German security audience support for the German intelligence services’ approach to the compartmentalisng of Muslim organisations into ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’, with greater surveillance of those deemed ‘illegitimate’. In his speech, Cameron promised that the British government would no longer fund or share platforms with Muslim organisations that, while non-violent, were also a part of the problem because they belonged to a ‘spectrum’ of Islamism. While those who openly support terrorism are at the ‘furthest end’ of this spectrum, it also includes many Muslims who accept ‘various parts of the extremist world view’ including ‘real hostility towards western democracy and liberal values’.

In this, what should be feared is that Cameron is indicating that the government’s review of counter-terrorism policy has been greatly influenced by the approach taken by the German intelligence services (Verfassungsschutz) which has at its base a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate Muslim organisations coupled with the most widespread system of religious profiling in Europe.

Liz Fekete analyses Cameron’s Munich speech.

Institute of Race Relations, 7 February 2011