British PM: ‘Muslim women must learn English or be deported’

January 18, 2016  

British Prime Minister David Cameron has provoked criticism after announcing his plans to help Muslim women learn to speak English fluently, while simultaneously warning they could be deported if their language skills do not improve.

Cameron announced a £20 million (about $28.5 million) fund for language classes to help teach 22 percent (190,000) of Muslim women in England who speak little or no English.

Classes are planned to take place in homes, schools and community centers with travel and childcare costs provided as to encourage maximum participation.

The tests will apply to spouses who have been living in Britain for over two years. However, rights to stay in the UK can be revoked and families could be broken up and mothers can be deported back to their country of origin if they fail the mandatory English language test.

“You can’t guarantee you will be able to stay if you are not improving your language,” said Cameron in an interview with BBC radio. “People coming to our country, they have responsibilities too.”

Cameron said that a lack of language skills could make Muslims in Britain more vulnerable to messages 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 said, “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.”

Naturally, his comments drew criticism from Muslim groups and opposition parties accused him of “disgraceful stereotyping.”

Lady Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet minister, welcomed the new money for language teaching, but said, “This lazy and misguided linking, and what I saw once again as stereotyping of British Muslim communities, I felt took away from what was a positive announcement.”

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