Multiculturalism as a contemporary ideology should be understood as a response to assimilationism, that is, as a movement toward greater respect for the cultural differences within nation-states. In the broadest sense, it signals an extension of the “human rights revolution,” defined originally with respect to individuals and then extended to groups. Within Western countries with large streams of immigrants of diverse origins—Canada, Australia, and the United States, especially during the 1970s and 1980s—new trends and policies emerged, recognizing and celebrating the cultural differences. In Europe, multiculturalism took the form mainly of public recognition of and public policies relating to religions, especially Islam. Generally, its meaning and expression vary depending on the national context and the extent to which it is defined primarily as a ...

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