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Divisive policies must never see light of day
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik has begun in Oslo. He is accused of killing 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last July. Breivik has admitted to carrying out these acts but has pleaded not guilty to acts of terrorism and mass murder. He claims that “he acted to protect Norway from multiculturalism and Islam.”
In T&T, a Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism was established less that two years ago. Both pre and post its creation neither public discussions nor explanations were offered re the concept of multiculturalism. It is not an all-inclusive term. In an article headlined “Anniversaries, Eric Williams and multiculturalism,” Marion O’Callaghan wrote: “We all lose Eric Williams if he is only a black hero. We refuse to understand the complexity of our history if we eliminate that road to adult suffrage.
We underestimate the strength and beauty of our culture when it becomes only something ‘kept apart.’” Prakash Persad opined that a policy for multiculturalism must be articulated: “In a multicultural society, there must be a common core of cultural practices that are understood by all. For this to happen, a policy on multiculturalism must be articulated, debated and agreed upon; together with a strategy for its implementation.”
The following quotation comes from the secretary general of the Maha Sabha, Satnarayan Maharaj, in an article headlined “Multiculturalism slowdown”: “In the new legislative year I am once again inviting the Prime Minister, Attorney General and the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism to enact legislation that would maintain the ideals of ‘multiculturalism’ that could be changed by a special majority.”
How does a government enact into law a concept that has not been debated, articulated nor understood by the national community? Thanks to Sunity Maharaj, the following words of wisdom from Henri Muttoo has been brought to the public’s attention: “Why do we need to plan our lives and educational strategies around a divisive concept like multiculturalism which, contrary to its benign ‘many cultures’ facade, is intended to emphasise differences rather than celebrate commonalities?”
Breivik is an extremist. His horrendous acts were triggered by concerns regarding the effects of multiculturalism in his country. The people of T&T need to know and understand what is meant by multiculturalism in the local and international context. We must ensure that policies designed to politicise our differences will never see the light of day.
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