New figures have emerged which suggest as many as 22 per cent of Muslim women in the UK speak little or no English. David Cameron has pledged £20 million towards language tuition. Though he claimed that there is no direct link between language and extremism, he suggested that those who don’t speak English may be more susceptible to extremism. In patriarchal societies men may not want women to be able to speak English. Cameron believes if these women know English they are more likely to integrate into society and this will improve the chances of those on visas being able to stay in the UK. Cameron voiced “we will never truly build One Nation unless we are more assertive about our liberal values”.
David Cameron has faced backlash for his comments which are somewhat controversial, but anything anyone says about race, religion or immigration in contemporary society is always seen as a controversial topic, especially in Britain. We should somewhat be applauding Cameron for addressing such an issue. Immigration has long been at the top of a pile of concerns the British public have, particularly in last years general election. With the increasing threat of ISIS there could not be a better time to promote social integration of Muslims in Britain. It is time we try to adopt Muslim groups into society rather than them being marginalised. This is by no means the fault of Britons alone, but also Muslim and other minority communities who refuse to integrate in to British life, learn English and adopt British values. It strikes me how if a British person travels anywhere else in the world – especially to the middle east – they would have to respect the cultural values and behaviours of that country. Simple things like no kissing in public or women having to cover up in public places. Or if that person was to emigrate to Australia they would have to meet a certain educational criteria and bring something beneficial to the country. The point here is that if you move to a country you should make the effort to adapt and understand the language and values of that country, as well as retaining your own. Cameron’s proposal for language tuition symbolically promotes an effort by the British government to support Muslim groups. Though it will be down to Muslims themselves to take up these classes and make the funding worth it.
Cameron’s comments about English tuition counteracting extremism were arguably quite generic when it is only an extremely small minority of Muslims that are involved in extremism. He is not wrong in his comments but he also needs to be careful that he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot and make Muslim women feel further marginalised rather than making them feel more included. The scheme should also include many other people in Britain who don’t speak a word of English, such as workers from the EU.
A budget of £20 million is arguably quite high, it may seem Cameron is simply squandering money if Muslims do not take up the tuition. At a time where student grants have been cut it may seem somewhat unfair that money is being spent on immigrants. There is a recurring theme where politicians seem apprehensive and even scared of proposing action on immigration and the diversity of society. When they do, they face fierce back-lash and claims of being racist. Only time will tell if this strategy is cost effective and makes a difference. In the meantime, maybe people should lay off Cameron and give him a chance to address an issue we all want addressed.