According to the Daily Telegraph
, Professor Cantle will argue at the Secularism 2012
conference that state funding of multiculturalism is fuelling separation of communities. He claims that public funding of faith based groups, and the giving of special status to leaders of such communities, is effectively state sponsored segregation.
In 2001, Professor Cantle, the founder of the Institute for Community Cohesion
at Coventry University, wrote a report on the 2001 Oldham riots in which he warned of the dangers of ethnic groups living "parallel lives". In his paper for the Secularism 2012 conference, the professor argues for an end to all state funding of projects and services directed at, or run by, particular religious or ethnic groups. He claims that such projects and services give undue legitimacy to the views of "self appointed leaders". Cantle sees multiculturalism as creating and reinforcing very clear boundaries between groups, which have become even more fixed and ascribed than the "race" categories they were intended to transcend.
Professor Cantle is only one of the speakers scheduled to appear at the Secularism 2012 conference, which is scheduled for Saturday 22 September. The theme for the conference is challenging religious privilege in public life. The keynote speaker for the conference is Professor Richard Dawkins, who as the Examiner
notes is probably the world's most famous atheist. Other speakers at the one day conference include the journalist Nick Cohen and human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who will argue that organised religion constitutes the greatest global threat to human rights.