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Tue 19 Jan 2016 09:48 AM

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Muslim women must learn English or face deportation, says UK PM

David Cameron says there are 190,000 British Muslim women who speak little or no English

Muslim women must learn English or face deportation, says UK PM
Prime Minister David Cameron (C), speaks with women attending an English language class during a visit to the Shantona Womens Centre on January 18, 2016 in Leeds, England. Cameron announced a £20 million fund to help Muslim women avoid isolation, and potential radicalisation, by learning English. He also said that Muslim women who have entered the country on a spousal visa and fail to learn English to a high enough standard could not be guaranteed to stay in the country. (Getty Images)

Some migrants to Britain who cannot pass an English test within 2-1/2 years of arriving may not be allowed to stay, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday in a move aimed at fostering greater integration by Muslim women.

Cameron said there were 190,000 British Muslim women who spoke little or no English and Britain needed to take on the "backward attitudes" of some men whom he said exerted damaging control over their wives, sisters and daughters.

"Someone can move to here with very basic English and there's no requirement to improve it over time. We will change that. We will now say: if you don't improve your fluency, that could affect your ability to stay in the UK," Cameron wrote in an article for the Times newspaper.

"This will help make it clear to those men who stop their partners from integrating that there are consequences."

The government will invest 20 million pounds ($28 million) in English classes for women in isolated communities, and from October this year will begin testing those who have come in to Britain on a spousal visa to check if their language skills have improved.

Cameron said while there was no direct causal link between poor English language skills and extremism, those who were not able to integrate into British society were at risk of being more susceptible to extremist ideologies.

"Separate development and accepting practices that go against our values only emphasize differences and can help prompt the search of something to belong to," he wrote.

But his comments were criticized by Muslim groups, who said the British leader was "denigrating" Muslims rather than working with communities to help tackle extremism.

"The Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative government are once again using British Muslims as a political football to score cheap points to appear tough," said Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation.

"Rather than focusing on the positive contribution of our faith and community he focuses on the extreme minority of issues which clearly is not representative."

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Jamal Khanfer 4 years ago

This is a difficult one to analyse. If it is only Muslim community in the UK that have that many women don't speak good English then there may be, only maybe little justification. But the long term danger of such comment could be more cynical and aimed at making Muslims lives difficult. However morally speaking those women entering in to the UK based on spouses visa forms part of marriage vous "for better, for worse " and not necessarily for the luxury of living in the UK. David's Cameron comment sounds very much inspired by Donald Trump and this is a bad nasty long term politics that could breakup and divide our world

Doug 4 years ago

Well, the actual wording is that this is for women in 'isolated communities'.

The fact that everyone knows what this refers to should speak volumes.

The UK is perfectly within its rights to demand that people who want to move to the UK demonstrate they will play an active part in UK society. The UK is under no obligation to let people in purely because they want to live in Britain. I also don't see how insisting that everyone in Britain be able to communicate, integrate and contribute is 'nasty' or divisive. If anything, it's the opposite.

The UK offers huge opportunities to women and let's be blunt, the women this refers to come from countries which don't typically give women many freedoms. Britain doesn't want oppressive practices in its country, so if there are men who don't want their wives playing a part in British society, maybe both husband and wife should stay in their own country.

mickdxb 4 years ago

Or Jamal, the UK could just say what is said to us, expats, here for years.."it's our country and if you don't like it, leave". I think it's a bit harsh to deport people based on not understanding the language but if you look at it from the point of not trying or making an effort, I can kind of understand the point.

Jamal Khanfer 4 years ago

This is a difficult one to analyse. If it is only Muslim community in the UK that have that many women don't speak good English then there may be, only maybe little justification. But the long term danger of such comment could be more cynical and aimed at making Muslims lives difficult. However morally speaking those women entering in to the UK based on spouses visa forms part of marriage vows "for better, for worse " and not necessarily for the luxury of living in the UK. David's Cameron comment sounds very much inspired by Donald Trump and this is a bad nasty long term politics that could breakup and divide our world

William 4 years ago

I agree with the comments @Doug totally. It is an English country and the people there should talk the language of the nation. Forming an emotional or religious affiliate to such social issues are really cheap. When in the country, do what is practiced there or else just leave...no one asked you to be there.

KwJ 4 years ago

@William - by that account, the British usurpers under the guise of East India Company should have respected the local traditions, language, culture and people.

Practice what you preach instead of coming up with ridiculous statements.

It's the age of globalization, I wouldn't be surprised if your children forego English and just learn Chinese!

Shakespeare 4 years ago

There will be a very big problem to solve: what to do with all the native Brits that don't speak their own mother tongue properly?

James 4 years ago

The answer is in your question, they are native.
They aren't moving there.

Doug 4 years ago

KwJ - yes, you're absolutely right, we should all just act how we used to 300 years ago and never try to change for the better. What a sensible idea.

If you want to live 300 years in the past, so be it, but don't drag the rest of the world down with you.

Get over it, colonialism wasn't the idea of anyone in Britain who is alive today and they don't want anything more to do with it.

Froggy 4 years ago

They make it mandatory to learn Arabic in various curriculum, especially in UAE.