The discovery that the two most recent suicide bombers in Israel (one bomb failed to detonate and the would-be ‘martyr’ is on the run) were British citizens has, understandably enough, provoked a great deal of introspection in the UK. As Philip Johnston (the writer of the article from the Daily Telegraph) discusses, it’s not difficult to see this incident as yet another example of the failures of multiculturalism in Britain. As he notes, “where, once, assimilation was considered the proper ambition of a modern, liberal democracy, for three decades now the multi-culturalists have held sway, encouraging a pluralism that has manifested itself in segregation.”
For a preview of a controversy likely to come to this country, check out the comments by Ted Cantle, the man asked by the Home Office to look into recent troubles in three British cities. According to the Daily Telegraph, Cantle found “that physical segregation was compounded by separate education, social and cultural networks, and employment.” That’s not a new point to make, and segregation is not (obviously) a phenomenon that is confined to the UK (as this sad story from Georgia reminds us). But then the Telegraph reports that Mr Cantle went on to say that faith schools posed a “significant problem” in these divided communities.
This raises an interesting question at a time when the debate over school choice continues. I have always been in favor of education vouchers, and there is no reason to think that a Muslim school need be any less (or more) benign than a ‘traditional’ parochial school. If schools tied to religious beliefs are to be allowed to enroll voucher students, the state clearly has no business in picking and choosing between different beliefs – a Muslim school should have no more or less right to accept such students than an atheist academy or a Protestant prep. Nevertheless, in an age where a violent form of religious extremism is on the rise, the prospect, however unlikely, of some sort of jihadi school being effectively funded by the taxpayer raises troubling questions to say the least. I’m thinking aloud here, but this looks like a problem. What’s the solution? Some sort of licensing system, I suppose, but it won’t be easy.