David Cameron has come out and criticised Muslim women, claiming that their English is not at an acceptable standard, and further stated that tests would be implemented for new migrants on a spousal visa to test their English fluency after two and a half years. To say that this has come completely out of the blue would be an understatement. If you consider that the UK is currently dealing with EU renegotiations, the global threat of ISIS, and massive strikes by junior doctors as a result of changes to their contracts, it seems a little random that Cameron would start spurting out this rhetoric, and we have to question why.
The main flaw in his argument was trying to make the link between a lack of English and radicalisation. He said:
If you’re 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 coming from Daesh.
Is this based on any research whatsoever, or is Cameron just going with his gut on this one? I don’t really understand what he means when he says that “challenges understanding what your identity is” might lead you straight into the hands of ISIS. Surely, there are far more factors at play than whether you can speak English that lead people to extremism. As Sayeeda Warsi, a former Tory peer said, “evidence suggests gang culture, Islamaphobia, [and] responses to foreign policy are greater drivers of radicalisation.” Add on to that list further stigmatisation of an already marginalised group, and we might be a bit closer to understanding what causes radicalisation.
I find this topic particularly ironic as Brits aren’t exactly renowned for bothering to learn the language when they emigrate to other countries. Who are we to demand that others must learn our language in the UK? Despite politicians such as Cameron holding the UK up as a melting pot, they are quick to undo any good work that is being done to fuse communities together, by referring to the UK as “One Nation” where everybody must conform to what Cameron calls “British values”. Thanks to far-right parties such as UKIP, “British values” is a hot topic in the UK these days. Rather than perpetuating this divisive attitude, we need more voices to stand up and say that being British is also about being accepting of other individuals, no matter what walk of life they come from. Using the kind of language he has on this issue, Cameron is creating further divides between the population and causing more problems.
This whole issue feels very much to me like Cameron is simply trying to look tough against the Muslim population in the UK as well as trying to look hard on terrorism. He said he will not back down from telling the “hard truths” to these supposed Muslim men who oppress women and refuse to let them learn English. Can anybody really imagine Cameron, in all his poofy hair glory, approaching this vague big evil Muslim man in the street and telling him how to go about his business? I certainly can, and it’s hilarious.
Also, the idea that these Muslim men are preventing their women from learning English is so patronising. Maybe the female Muslim population don’t really want to learn English? Maybe they’re perfectly happy in their own communities with other like minded people? To try to make yourself look like the white knight coming along to save these women, while at the same time threatening to separate families if they don’t get their English up to a standard that Cameron is happy with is insincere and unfair.
I mean can anyone seriously imagine this man sticking up for anybody? He would get his head kicked in.
He’s already been widely criticised in the press for these comments so I won’t go on too much, but obviously this idea was flawed from the start. Why just Muslim women? What’s the link to anti terror? It’s just confusing, and clearly Cameron hasn’t done his research. But it should be highlighted because we can’t let our prime minister get away with comments like this so easily. It shows a really damaging bias that he has on the Muslim population in Britain.
Of course, more language classes is good for everybody who uses them. It can’t hurt anybody in the UK who can’t speak English to learn it. But to force them into it against their will is another matter altogether. Why couldn’t he focus on highlighting the benefits of learning English to those who can’t speak it, instead of threatening an already marginalised group? I guess this is the way of the conservative party. There’s nothing new here.
Well, I’ll leave this blog post here. Please feel free to comment on the issue and follow this blog for more posts. On Monday I will be posting a top ten list of songs to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. Have a good one.