National Security, Multiculturalism and Muslim Minorities

34 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2006

See all articles by Kent Roach

Kent Roach

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2006


Using case studies of Muslim minorities in Canada and Singapore, this paper examines the complex relationship between multiculturalism and national security. The first part of the paper examines the different characteristics of Muslim minorities in Canada and Singapore with an emphasis on how Canada's Muslim minority is smaller, more diverse and less well established than Singapore's. The next section examines some of the dangers of hurried or heavy-handed attempts to merge concerns about multiculturalism with security that do not build on pre-existing institutions and inter-group relations. Topics examined include Canada's creation of a new Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security, the aborted proposal in the United Kingdom for control orders with respect to religious extremism and Singapore's Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act. The next part outlines Canada's and Singapore's main responses to 9/11 with special attention to how these responses may affect the Muslim minorities in both countries and the way each society has managed the arrest and detention of suspected terrorists. The place of multiculturalism in the official national security policies released by both governments in 2004 is also examined. The next section explores the role of transparent and independent review of national security activities in the maintenance of public confidence in the fairness of the state's security strategies in multicultural societies. The final section critically examines the emerging trend of prosecuting speech associated with terrorism and the consequent blurring of anti-terrorism and anti-hate rationales for the prohibition of extreme political or religious speech. The article concludes with a discussion of how Canada and Singapore will deal with the challenges of crafting national security policies for their multicultural societies in their own distinct manner.

Suggested Citation

Roach, Kent, National Security, Multiculturalism and Muslim Minorities (October 2006). U Toronto, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 938451, Available at SSRN: or

Kent Roach (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1
416-946-5645 (Phone)
416-978-2648 (Fax)

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