The British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday emphasised the need to rescue Muslim women from social isolation, teach them English and address discrimination against them. He also linked the isolation of mothers from society and its liberal values to the slide of young people towards radicalisation.
Cameron dedicated an opinion article published by The Times to this topic and also carried out a visit to Muslim groups in the city of Leeds. In the article published by The Times, the prime minister said that the time had come to address the “backward” practices which a minority of Muslim men adhere to and the “damaging control” that they exercise over their wives, sisters and daughters. He also said that the acceptance of the idea of a segregated society under the pretext of “tolerance” is wrong and must be abandoned.
On the lack of connection to extremism, Cameron wrote “I am not saying separate development or conservative religious practices directly cause extremism. That would be insulting to many who are devout and peace-loving. But they can help a young person’s slide towards radicalisation”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cameron called for women to abandon the face veil in schools, courts and at borders.
To address these challenges Cameron has outlined a new approach and announced a £20 million ($28.5 million) drive to teach British Muslim women in “isolated communities” English in order to integrate them into society.
The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain Dr Shuja Shafi welcomed the prime minister’s decision to expand the teaching of English within Muslim communities and pointed out that Muslim civil society and mosques are prepared to embrace English language lessons. However, he continued by saying that “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”. He further added that “Muslims are only one third of the minority population. Reports suggest a significant proportion of immigrants from Eastern Europe struggle with English.”