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Cameron again out of his depth on Muslim issues

29th Jan 2016

The outbursts continue. The claims become more outrageous. How often is Prime Minister, David Cameron, going to be completely out of his depth and feed on myths and highly questionable unsubstantiated statistics? His aim almost every month has been to target Muslim communities and expound his Government’s misguided counter-terrorism policies.

His latest target, not a new one, is Muslim women, projecting an alarming picture of gender segregation, discrimination and social isolation from mainstream British life. The simplistic answer he suggests is to force them to learn English and ironically offers £20m in funding after making over £40m in cuts last year. The ultimate sanction is deportation for those failing to learn English.

It was unexplained hogwash claiming that the lack of integration of some Muslim communities has helped to foster extremism and allowed “appalling practices” such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage, that has not the slightest thing to do with Islam but are known to be cultural practices. If Cameron was also warning about the incredible threat of Islamophobic hate crime, he seemed to be only reinforcing falsehoods about Muslims.

Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, said that the Prime Minister was only trying to “grab easy headlines” and was risking doing more harm than good. “His clumsy and simplistic approach to challenging extremism is unfairly stigmatising a whole community. There is a real danger that it could end up driving further radicalisation, rather than tackling it.”

“This announcement is dog-whistle politics at its best,” said Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron. “Linking women in the Muslim community who struggle with the English language to home grown extremism only serves to isolate the very people Cameron says he is trying to help.” Shadow International Development Minister, Imran Hussain, demanded that the Prime Minister apologises for linking extremism with poor English language skills.

UCU [University and College Union] said his call for Muslim women to learn English exposed funding problems for speakers of foreign languages and how the Government’s cuts have hit the very classes designed to help people improve their English. “The Prime Minister’s strong words on the importance of learning English simply do not fit with his actions,” said General Secretary, Sally Hunt.

Further controversy was also caused by Cameron when Gerard Tubb of Sky TV was banned as the pool broadcaster from talking to Muslim women selected to promote his initiative. “This is outrageous, we are journalists & we’re not here to do your propaganda,” he tweeted. Editor of Ian Dunt, sarcastically replied that Muslim women were only “to be seen and not heard” at the launch on January 18.

Muslim Council of Britain cautioned the Prime Minister on the language he used and warned that the campaign 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.” But it agreed he was right to highlight economic inactivity amongst Muslim women.

“We must look carefully at the drivers, a 2015 Demos report Rising to the Top, suggests that the greater economic inactivity amongst British Muslim women is primarily due to family care at home rather than not learning English, and that this is most pronounced in women above the age of 50.”



[Photo: PM David Cameron. Photographer: Hasan Tosun/AA]

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