Is Deliberative Democracy Bad for Multiculturalism?
What is the best way for democracy to deal with multicultural clashes? Against the unilateral “assimilation solution” supported by many European leaders, some scholars have recently argued that the Habermasian public sphere is particularly receptive to multicultural issues, proving a platform where parties can concur to a peaceful agreement. By drawing parallels from Perekh (2005)’s analysis of the debate between Liberals and Muslim groups on the “Satanic verses” in UK, and the tendency of Confucian ethics and other cultures to foster social harmony, I argue that several problems undermine the neutrality of the Habermasian concept of deliberation in relation to multiculturalism. And the same problems can affect models of deliberative democracy that are primarily based on an ideal of verbal communication.