Multiculturalism in the West has reached its limits?

voted YES
voted NO

Debate result

The moderator's result remarks

M. Hamza Iftikhar

As much as we would like to be able to continue this stimulating and productive debate on multiculturalism, it is time to conclude. After twenty days of thought-provoking and argumentative discussion, the majority i.e. 60% of 579 who voted in this debate have sided with Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam in arguing that multiculturalism in the West has reached its limits. However, it would be unfair to ignore the 40% of those who have voted against the motion and in favour of Professor Handel Kashope Wright.

Since the opening session and up until the closing, both sides had been very close and there was little to separate the two, in terms of votes as well as arguments put forward by the debaters. Thanks to the debaters and guests, we were able to comprehend what multiculturalism is and also the complexities around the idea as well as other concepts like identity and nationalism. In doing so, many questions were answered such as what multiculturalism really is, is it really a reality, is it a positive thing for a society, how does nationalism and identity come into play when talking about multiculturalism, has it really ever been applied in the West, and what do we mean by ‘limits’.

Despite the differences around the idea of identity, individualism, as well as whether or not multiculturalism has reached its limits in the West, there was also quite a bit of agreement between both debaters which I think we all can take away from this debate. Among other things, both agree that multiculturalism is a reality and that cultural diversity is something that should be acknowledged and celebrated. This was also echoed by our notable guests who joined us in the opening and rebuttal session. The debaters also agreed upon the premise that nation-states are essentially an invention rather than natural groups of societies. Moreover, both shared the view that individuals of diverse multicultural societies should live together with harmony and not infringe upon each other’s rights.

The debate was also enriched by the audience’s participation not just through votes but also by their comments. One particular aspect which I think is worth pointing out is that there also seems to be a difference of opinion amongst people who have voted in favour of the motion. By monitoring the number of comments submitted on the social media, some of which are also featured on the website, it seems that a large number of those who have voted in favour of the motion do not agree or support the idea of multiculturalism all together, let alone Professor Adib-Moghaddam’s ‘dialectal multiculturalism’. This I believe resonates with the high amount of public sentiment against migration and multiculturalism that we see on the rise in the ‘West’, as witnessed in the Brexit campaign as well as US, Dutch and French presidential campaigns, regardless of the outcome. In that sense, this debate has been extremely beneficial in demonstrating what people think and feel about issues like multiculturalism, migration, diversity, identity and religious freedom.

All in all I would say that the debate has been successful in bringing about not just the productive reasoning and evidence-backed constructive thoughts on multiculturalism, but also the insight into what the majority of those who have participated think and believe. This I hope assists the understanding of those studying multiculturalism as well as those who are working on policies and ideas that seek to manage and support multiculturalism thrive in the West.

In order to read the statements and arguments presented by both sides as well as our guests, please click here.

On behalf of MUSLIM Institute and The Muslim Debate, I would like to thank our honourable debaters, Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam and Professor Handel Kashope Wright for contributing their precious time and participating in this online debate through their insightful remarks. I would also like to extend heartiest thanks to our highly admirable guests, Professor Virginie Guiraudon, Professor Colleen Ward, Professor Natasha Warikoo and Ambassador William Lacy Swing for their time and thought-provoking contributions that certainly helped enrich the debate. And to our wonderful audience around the world who have participated in this debate through their enthusiastic input via votes and comments on the website as well as social media, thank you very much. We truly hope that this debate proves successful in its objective to act as a tool for a better understanding and further discussion on multiculturalism.

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