Muslim women must learn English or be deported: British PM

Published: January 18, 2016
A file photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: Muslim women who fail to learn English to a high enough standard could face deportation from Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday.

He also suggested that poor English skills can leave people “more susceptible” to the messages of groups like Islamic State (IS).

Cameron’s comments came as his centre-right Conservatives launched a £20 million ($28.5 million, 26 million euro) language fund for women in isolated communities as part of a drive to build community integration.

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Immigration rules already force spouses to speak English before they come to Britain to live with their partners.

But Cameron said they would also face further tests after two and a half years in the country to make sure their language skills were improving.

“You can’t guarantee you will be able to stay if you are not improving your language,” he told BBC radio. “People coming to our country, they have responsibilities too.”

Cameron’s government estimates that around 190,000 Muslim women in England – about 22 percent – speak little or no English.

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There are estimated to be around 2.7 million Muslims in England out of a total population of some 53 million.

Cameron said that a lack of language skills could make Muslims in Britain more vulnerable to the message of extremist groups.

“I am not saying there is some sort of causal connection between not speaking English and becoming an extremist, of course not,” he told BBC radio.

“But if you are not able to speak English, not able to integrate, you may find therefore you have challenges understanding what your identity is and therefore you could be more susceptible to the extremist message.”

His comments drew criticism from Muslim groups and opposition parties.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, which campaigns for better community relations, accused Cameron of “disgraceful stereotyping”.

“David Cameron and his Conservative government are once again using British Muslims as a political football to score cheap points to appear tough,” he added.

And Andy Burnham, home affairs spokesman for the main opposition Labour party, accused Cameron of a “clumsy and simplistic approach” which was “unfairly stigmatising a whole community.”

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Malik
    Jan 18, 2016 - 10:52AM

    Would happen when they allow all the taxi drivers to obtain fiance visas, and kick out all the fresh university graduates because they do not have enough “points”. The British immigration system is completely out of whack and outdated.Recommend

  • ahad
    Jan 18, 2016 - 1:48PM

    I am mortified when I meet some of my countrymen in western countries. I wish the best for them, however I always wonder how in the heck did they end up there.
    It is important we play by the written and unwritten rules of other countries.

    For example, I want to go to Russia after a couple of years. Therefore I have already begun learning their language. Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Jan 18, 2016 - 2:13PM

    Why segregate them as muslims / Bangladeshis … They are supposed to integrate into the new host society. Treat them as natives on par with other immigrants from Slovakia etc., Recommend

  • GKA
    Jan 18, 2016 - 2:30PM

    If you read the social media and the debate in the press, you may believe that the muslim community closely guards the right Not to be Integrated and puts the onus on the state. All the articles you read – even in places like BBC etc – are about “France’s inability to integrate muslims’ or Britain’s inability or Belgium’s inability. No one talks about muslims ability – they are completely off the hook in the narrative currently prevalent

    In that light the above is a very good move. – a clear effort on the part of government with a clear message that the muslim community needs to come forward and do its bit or face deportation.Recommend

  • Karachiite
    Jan 18, 2016 - 2:35PM

    excellent initiative. my uncle has lived in england for decades and he’s told me about the kind of radical neighborhoods that exist in pockets of london and birmingham, where it looks just like saudi arabia, and the women are oppressed, so i get what mr cameron here is talking about. indeed education is the best enlightenment.Recommend

  • Ahad
    Jan 18, 2016 - 3:58PM

    @Malik: I think they want Taxi drivers, long haul truck drivers and counter attendants etc But they want them to be integrated.

    They don’t give international students 50,000 pound jobs after their degree unless the person is exceptionally good (not just good). I think we do the same with the Uganda students at Karachi University; if there are any left that is.

    When they hire low skilled labor they slow the upward mobility by at least a generation.

    I would not call it out of whack, but would call it “more filtered”. This way they get the gifted minds and slowed down less gifted ones. Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2016 - 4:30PM

    It remind me MIND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE BBC series. I wish they make similar series with this twenty million education grant with it. It was really series and very educated comedy. Recommend

  • shahid
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:22PM

    Good decision but very, very late. Fanaticism is very deep rooted now. Also know that the extremists are more afraid of being deported than Death and God both. Only deportations and zero tolerance can stop this menace. I accuse Britain of primarily responsible for the spread of Islamic fundamentalism by tolerating and in some ways encouraging these activities in the name of liberalismRecommend

  • someone
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:44PM

    This is open bigotry…singling out (the women of) a particular community is called fascism…and one more thing Mr PM…integration is a two way street..the host community has responsibilities also. FACT is the White British people are not willing to befriend non whites..whether they are blacks, asian, chinese, etc…Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Jan 18, 2016 - 7:26PM

    A goo Move . learn to be a Roman in Rome I say . Recommend

  • abhi
    Jan 18, 2016 - 7:27PM

    Nice initiative. Need more such initiative to educate and integrate muslim population to mainstream. Recommend

  • Azmat Ali
    Jan 18, 2016 - 7:56PM

    I am absolutely flabbergasted by the unrealistic expectations of host communities across the globe. What did they expect of all immigrants? That they would simply unburden themselves of the cultural and religious practices of their homeland upon arriving in these new lands? Only if any of their actions (religious, cultural, or otherwise) fall askew of the law, there has to be an expectation of these folks abiding by the laws of the new homeland they have chosen. However, speaking in English, was never a requirement for those who accompanied the primary immigrant. Neither was the abandonment of the Niqab. Nor was anyone required to give up their cultural norms and practices upon landing in England.
    These new Immigrants are now Britons. You have granted them the right to live in your country. They went through a rigorous process of selection to be given that right. None of these “new” demands of integration were part of the selection process nor did these folks agree to any of it.
    However, the British have their rights. If the majority believes there’s a certain set of rules of life that must apply to all its citizens, please go ahead and make them into a law and forcefully “reform” or throw out those who don’t abide by these new laws and requirements. But until such time that these new demands are converted into laws for all Citizens, no immigrant community can be forced to “change its ways”. Recommend

  • GI Joe
    Jan 18, 2016 - 7:58PM

    More proof that Cameron is heading towards fascism. Recommend

  • Shakil
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:37PM

    I think its a fair expectation, migrants should stop living in ghettos and should know the language. I mean how can you justify holding a British passport and cant speak single word of English?

    I see resentment in many of the migrants who wish to live in UK but at the same time hating the country and locals? Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:54PM

    If Pakistan does the same, Bilawal will be the first to get thrown outRecommend

  • GKA
    Jan 18, 2016 - 9:32PM

    @Azmat Ali: Remember the two nation theory ? These people who have acquired citizenship of the British state maybe citizens of the state, but they are not citizens of the british nation. Thier passport maybe british, but thier nationalality would still be of the land they were born in.

    Mybe you have a point that if they are granted citizenship then the state has to accept them (but then what are thier obligations) – but then the state has the right to raise the bar on new people. And that is what is happening. Brisith would not be deported. But non british on a spouse visa would certainly be deportedRecommend

  • Anon
    Jan 18, 2016 - 10:16PM

    I wonder what the stance would be if the Gulf countries applied a similar set of rules…. Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 19, 2016 - 12:19AM

    The sub-continent people should have insisted that the English learn Urdu/Hindi before the Raj illegally occupied them.Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jan 19, 2016 - 12:56AM

    Such rules are already in Gulf countries. In some non-Muslims cannot be citizen and practice their religion.Recommend

  • Azmat Ali
    Jan 19, 2016 - 2:20AM

    @GKA: The issue for me stems from these British politicians boasting of a multicultural society, while, on the other hand, they would like everyone to conform to their interpretation of what a community or society must be like.
    You don’t want conservatism or religiosity in your country, then stop giving visas to people who show up for immigration interviews with long beards and in burqas. Why allow them in, in the first place, then expect them to suddenly become “enlightened” and “moderate”. Recommend

  • Kolsat
    Jan 19, 2016 - 2:41AM

    Since the immigrants come to western countries for a better quality of life they have the responsibility to learn the ways of their host nation and integrate with the natives. That is why I support PM Cameron. It may seem harsh but it is right. Non-integration into British society by Muslims has led to the current state of affairs where Muslims consider themselves only as Muslims and have no loyalty toward the country which gives them shelter and safety.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Jan 19, 2016 - 6:10AM

    Every European nations should follow Gujarat’s example during Modi’s time. Muslims there are now the most peaceful in the world.Recommend

  • Tp
    Jan 19, 2016 - 6:38AM

    I love this man.Recommend

  • Ashraf P
    Jan 19, 2016 - 6:40AM

    The West just made it patently clear that Muslims are not welcome. If they have an iota of self-esteem they will boycott these countries.Recommend

  • someone
    Jan 19, 2016 - 7:25AM

    For that to happen, first they need to start offering residency and citizenship.Recommend

  • Abdul Hai
    Jan 19, 2016 - 8:08AM

    While in England tens years ago, I asked my Jamaican friend, who was married to a British lady and settled in London, his opinion about racism in England. He said that he learned what RACISM meant when he moved to England.

    If the English Prime Minister makes a similar law for English ladies to learn the language of the destination first before they marry a foreigner and seek passport to travel to that country, the law will never be passed.

    Glorifying the act of TERRORISM is declared under their law as TERRORISM. This is because they wanted serious action against terrorism. However, glorifying the act of RACISM is a pride. Those who have experienced RACISM in UK know that this fundamentalism is a reaction of the alienation and racism.Recommend

  • Jan 19, 2016 - 8:39AM

    Yes, PM Cameron is RIGHT. The Muslims cannot continue to be indifferent to change. They must learn to ADAPT.
    No government imposes immorality on its citizens. Under the changed circumstances of their choosing…the citizens must obey the law.
    Why is it that only after a ‘dunda’ does humanity see the light of day and the darkness of night? Salams Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 19, 2016 - 8:41AM

    English is becoming more and more accepted as the franca lingua of the globe,
    let alone for living in UK. In fact, any prospective long-term visitor to the UK should first be required to take an English test at the UK High Commission before being granted a visa.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 19, 2016 - 8:47AM

    @Abdul Hai:
    If one dons a bowler hat, talks like an Etonion and periodically downs a few stouts at the corner pub, you see that perceived “racism” end in a flash !Recommend

  • Jan 19, 2016 - 9:47AM

    @Ashraf P: sorry! Let’s not be vainglorious and live on emotions. We Muslims have a long and arduous road ahead, which can be traversed through education and disallowing the mullah to cage us. We have to unshackle our man-made irrational beliefs. Salams Recommend

  • Aly Khan
    Jan 19, 2016 - 10:52AM

    I personally feel this is the right way forward. We openly preach globalization everywhere so why not practice what we preach! No is is taking immigrants English test right away. give them time…An year or so after which, those with low English score should be penalized. What is the point of relocating into another country when you are not even willing to integrate. This rule should exist in all countries (with their respective National language) and encompass all immigrants without any gender bias.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 19, 2016 - 1:56PM

    Mr Cameron is talking his usual nonsense. In the suburb where I live there are all type of nationalities, namely Indian, Pakistan, Chinese not to mention various Asian and European languages. When I go shopping I find that many parents speak poor English, but the children are chattering to each other in very good English. It is obvious that one generation solves the problem as far as speaking good English is concerned.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jan 19, 2016 - 2:53PM

    If English is a must, have the same rules for all migrants irrespective of nationality, gender, religion, language, race or ethnicity. Rules should be unbiased and seen to be so..Recommend

  • genesis
    Jan 19, 2016 - 10:13PM

    If they want to recreate the life .habits and way of living in the host society why go there in the first place.They should stay put in their home country and live as they want Brittan is right in insisting on this integration.Recommend

  • genesis
    Jan 19, 2016 - 10:19PM

    There would no production,buildings,industries and any type of work at all because the local neither have the skills or the numbers!Recommend

  • Uzair
    Jan 23, 2016 - 10:28PM

    White man’s colonial mindset wouldn’t change. Even after being reduced from three-quarters of the world to a tiny piece of land, imperialism is embedded in the mindset of British ruling elite.Recommend

  • Amer
    Jan 27, 2016 - 6:07AM

    I have some Muslim friends from Gujrat, india who think you are talking rubbish, pure and simple! Recommend

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