David Cameron’s Message to Muslim Women – Learn English or Leave
Yesterday morning, David Cameron announced that Muslim women who failed to learn English could be refused leave to remain in the UK.
Accused of taking a ‘clumsy and simplistic’ approach, Mr Cameron wrote in yesterday’s edition of The Times that the lack of integration within British society of some Muslim communities had helped to foster extremism and allowed "appalling practices" such as female genital mutilation (which is often carried out in countries with majority Christian populations) and forced marriage.
Mr Cameron wrote: "All too often, because of what I would call 'passive tolerance', people subscribe to the flawed idea of separate development.”
"It is time to change our approach. We will never truly build One Nation unless we are more assertive about our liberal values, more clear about the expectations we place on those who come to live here and build our country together and more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers.”
"This is Britain. In this country, women and girls are free to choose how they live, how they dress and who they love. It’s our values that make this country what it is, and it’s only by standing up for them assertively that they will endure."
He also stated that a minority of Muslim men exerted, “damaging control” over the women in their families.
Cuts to Language Course Funding
Some have been quick to point out that in 2011, the Coalition Government, led by Mr Cameron, withdrew funding for basic English classes for those who spoke it only as a second language.
It was limited to those claiming job seekers' allowance or employability skills allowance - excluding many of those women who Mr Cameron now says he is targeting.
The Prime Minister did state that a £20m fund would provide classes for all women struggling with English, after highlighting that 38,000 Muslim women who could not speak the language and 190,000 with limited skills in it.
He then went on to announce there would be a new regime meaning those on a five-year spousal visa would have to pass language tests after two and a half years in the country or face having to leave.
Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network, said the policy, “ should be directed at all communities, not just Muslims – and it shouldn’t be linked to radicalisation”.
“People learning English is a good thing, so they know their rights and can participate in society. Mr Cameron says he wants to empower Muslim women. But what about Muslim women who already speak English and still face barriers to participation?” she asked.
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