The reaction against non‐western immigrants and especially Muslims has been analysed both in terms of an exclusionary civic nationalism and in terms of an assertive liberalism. Similar to exclusionary civic nationalism, assertive liberalism purports to defend liberal democratic principles and society against illiberal principles and forces predominantly represented by Muslims. This article argues that nationalism and liberalism are analytically distinguishable but difficult to disentangle empirically. It contends that a more detailed analysis of assertive liberalism can be obtained by subdividing it into four categories of liberal intolerance and demonstrates this by analysing six national debates on the accommodation of cultural and religious diversity in education. The analysis indicates that the nature of liberal intolerance understood as the combination of the four categories of liberal intolerance varies with the state tradition regarding religious neutrality of public institutions and the type of welfare state, but also that many liberal arguments for and against accommodation repeat themselves across national contexts.