Multiculturalism: Is Islam a Threat or Under Threat? Introduction Multiculturalism is defined as the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level eg schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities and nations…
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Multiculturalism is contrasted with the concept of assimilationism and it has been viewed as a “salad bowl” or cultural mosaic and not as a “melting pot” (Burgess 31) Views on multiculturalism and its emergence Different views on multiculturalism have given rise to two differing and inconsistent strategies in the contemporary society: The first is a focus on intercultural interaction and communication. This creates opportunities for the interaction and communication of intercultural differences to create multiculturalism. The second focuses on cultural uniqueness and diversity. Isolation of culture can preserve the uniqueness of the local culture of a country or place and also help develop a global diversity of culture. An example of a strategy to protect local culture is the “Cultural exception proposal by France in the General Agreement on Tariffs and trade (GATT) negotiations in 1993. The supporters of multiculturalism view it as a fair system that gives people the opportunity to freely express who they are within a society that has more tolerance and that which adapts well to social issues. They claim that culture is not a single definable entity based on one religion or race, but that it is a result of many factors that change with the world. Support for the modern mutliculturalism originates from the changes in the Western communities after the Second World War in what is commonly referred to as the human rights revolution, in which the atrocities of ethnic cleansing and institutionalized racism were unbearable in the wake of the Holocaust. As the European colonial system collapsed, colonized African and Asian countries fought for independence and brought to light the racist atrocities of the colonial system. With the rising of the Civil rights movement in the United States, this criticized assimilation ideals that brought prejudice against those who failed to act according to Anglo-American standards, leading to the rise of the ethnic studies programs as a means of counteracting lack of contribution by minority races in the classrooms (Wessendorf 35). In this sense, multiculturalism was viewed in the Western countries as a good strategy to fight racism, protect the minority communities, and to reverse policies that barred the minorities from fully accessing opportunities of freedom and equality that was promised by liberalism, a symbol of the Western society since the Enlightenment Age. Trotman defends the value of multiculturalism, stating that it “uses several disciplines to highlight neglected aspects of our social history, particularly the histories of women and minorities” and “promotes respect for the dignity of the lives and voices of the forgotten. By closing gaps, by raising consciousness about the past, multiculturalism tries to restore a sense of wholeness in a postmodern era that fragments human life and thought," (Trotman ix). Modood T. insists that in the early 21st century, multiculturalism is timely and necessary and more of it is required since it is the perfect form of intergration that fits the egalitarianism ideal. He goes on to say that it has a good chance for succeeding in the post 9/11 and the post 7/7 world and that it has remained moderate and pragmatic (14). Bhikhu argues that there are tendencies to equate multiculturalism with racial minorities demanding special rights thus promoting a “
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