Writing today on the Guardian's Comment is Free site, Professor Charles Taylor makes some important points about multiculturalism, saying people need to stop "block-thinking" about Islam. By associating certain expressions of Islamic piety or culture, for example the headscarf, with one possible meaning, such as fundamentalism, we risk thinking of Muslims as one unified block, and so "make it harder for Muslims to stand out and criticise their own block thinkers", such as Osama bin Laden.
As Taylor says, "block thinkers on each side give aid and comfort to block thinkers on the other side" and help to strengthen Charles Huntington's controversial idea of the "clash of civilisations". Taylor concludes that we need to discourage block thinking and listen to "the crossover figures who can provide that urgently needed connection", for example the many who may be "deeply pious while being utterly revolted by gender discrimination or violence".
It's a point that ties in with our latest cover story on Islamic extremism in British universities. While there may be a problem with Islamist groups on campus, it is important to remember that such groups speak for the minority and do not warrant a hysterical reaction.