‘Learn English Or Get Ready To Be Deported’: David Cameron Tells Muslim Women Living In Britain

British Prime Minister David Cameron has raked up controversy after he targeted the Muslim community living in the UK and told them their women could be deported if they do not learn English. In an op-ed Cameron wrote for The Times newspaper, he said that that his government is working on a policy wherein migrants entering the United Kingdom on a spousal visa would be required to pass an English language test two-and-a-half years after their arrival in the country. If the migrants fail to pass the test, they stand a chance of being deported to their home country.

According to The Washington Post, Cameron emphasized that the policy, which could see the light of the day starting October 2016, would be implemented for all migrants entering the U.K. but did add that the move was also seen necessary after he realized that over 190,000 Muslim women living in the UK for several years have still not learnt English.

Cameron says the following in the article.

“At the moment, someone can move 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 U.K.”

“Yes, we have responsibilities to migrants, but they have responsibilities too.”

Cameron further writes.

“I am not blaming the people who can’t speak English. Some of these people have come to our country from quite patriarchal societies where perhaps the menfolk haven’t wanted them to learn English, haven’t wanted them to integrate.”

While Cameron did say the policy would be the same for all migrant spouses, he was criticized by many for singling out Muslim women in his article. The move by Cameron is also being seen by many as a move to tackle radicalization and weed out segregation. In an interview to the BBC, Cameron later told that he believed “people who speak poor English are more susceptible to the extremist message.”

Cameron added that the British government would spend £20 million ($28.6 million) on English lessons for women and said that the lessons would be targeted at immigrant woman living in isolated communities. He went on to add that there were more than 38,000 Muslim women living in the UK who speak no English. Another 190,000 Muslim women speak poor English.

If the policy is implemented, migrant spouses who arrive legally in the UK would be tested for their English language skills 2.5 years after their arrival in Britain. The most controversial aspect of the policy is the clause which says that the women could be deported even if she has kids in Britain. Critics say this could end up breaking migrant families.

“You can’t guarantee you will be able to stay if you are not improving your language,” he said.

Cameron was also criticized by some fellow Britons for this move and several people thought his move would “unfairly stigmatize” a whole community.

The Muslim Council of Britain in response to Cameron’s statement welcomed his move to provide funding for teaching English to Muslim women. They were however critical of him to single out Muslim women and connect their lack of English language skills to extremism. In a statement they said;

“The Prime Minister’s aim to have English more widely spoken and for better integration falls at the first hurdle if he is to link it to security and single out Muslim women to illustrate his point.”

Another Muslim organization in the country, the Ramadhan Foundation has also come to the fore in criticizing Cameron. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said in a statement:

“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.”

[Photo by Oli Scarff – WPA Pool /Getty Images]

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