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Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

The 'War on Terror' and its effects in the UK

Published: 14 May 2008

Derek McGhee's recent research has been captured in his topical new book The End of Multiculturalism? Terrorism, Integration and Human Rights (Open University Press, to be published 19 May) which provides a thorough examination of debates on multiculturalism, in the context of current discussions on security, integration and human rights.

In this book Dr McGhee examines the backlash in the UK to multiculturalism and human rights in the context of 'the war on terror'. He traces the impact of the loyalty paranoia that has been unleashed in Britain since 9/11, focusing in particular on Muslim communities in the UK. Dr McGhee examines the impact of counter-terrorism strategies on Muslim communities; and the impact of the ‘you are either with us or against us’ mentality associated with ‘the war on terror’ on their opportunities for political debate, dissent and engagement in contemporary Britain.

Dr McGhee traces the new conditionality in Britain's human rights culture, which following Arendt, he describes as the question of 'the right to have rights'. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, described Britain as a human rights respecting nation whilst attempting to shift the balance of the European Convention by suggesting that 'we need to decide whose rights comes first'.

In this context the application of human rights was to change to allegedly protect the law abiding majority from those ‘who would harm us’, at the same time, the respect for ‘communities of identity’ under multiculturalism was superseded by a new emphasis on ‘communities of citizens’ where those who settle in the UK are required to ‘fully integrate’ at the point of ‘shared values’.

Recent debates on national identity and the alleged failure of multiculturalism have focused on the social disorder in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in the summer of 2001 and the bombings and attempted bombings in London in July 2005. Dr McGhee assesses how these events and the events that have occurred outside Britain, especially the attacks on the USA on 11th September 2001, have resulted in the introduction of a number of high profile debates in Britain with regards to immigration, integration, citizenship, ‘race’ inequality and human rights.

"...the book is a brave and authoritative analysis of multiculturalism... McGhee successfully locates his subject in the context of recent developments in both community cohesion and human rights and shows with great skill how differing impulses within government and the wider community pull multiculturalism in various different directions... With this book, McGhee manages to be both topical and well-informed: it deserves a wide readership."
- Professor Conor Gearty, LSE

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