(photo credit: AP [file])
Multiculturalism promotes segregation, stifles free speech and threatens liberal democracy, Britain's top Jewish official warned in extracts from his book published Saturday.
Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi, defined multiculturalism as an attempt to affirm Britain's diverse communities and make ethnic and religious minorities more appreciated and respected. But in his book, "The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society," he said the movement had run its course.
"Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation," Sacks wrote in his book, an extract of which was published in the Times of London.
"Liberal democracy is in danger," Sacks said, adding later: "The politics of freedom risks descending into the politics of fear."
Sacks said Britain's politics had been poisoned by the rise of identity politics, as minorities and aggrieved groups jockeyed first for rights, then for special treatment.
The process, he said, began with Jews, before being taken up by blacks, women and gays. He said the effect had been "inexorably divisive."
"A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation is greater than that of others," he said.
In an interview with the Times, Sacks said he wanted his book to be "politically incorrect in the highest order." But Sacks defended his strong support for Jewish schools in Britain, saying the promotion of Jewish education was compatible with integration.
Photogenic and outspoken, Sacks is highly regarded in Britain and makes frequent appearances on television, radio and in the national press.
His reputation among Britain's 260,000-strong Jewish community is more varied. Ultra-orthodox believers were dismayed by the suggestion in Sacks' earlier book, "The Dignity of Difference," that the faith did not contain the absolute truth, according to The Times.
In 1997, he outraged many among his more liberal-minded constituents when he criticized the late leader of the Reform movement as a "destroyer of the faith" in a letter leaked to the media.
Sacks also raised hackles when, in 2002, he said in an interview that there were many things that happened in Israel that made him "very uncomfortable as a Jew."