British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that migrants on spousal visas will need to improve their English or face possible deportation and added that language tests will also be taken into account for those applying for such visas. In an article published in the Times Monday, the prime minister also said the country will fund English classes for Muslim women to help build a cohesive community that can fight extremism.
Cameron announced 20 million pounds ($28.5 million) to fund language classes for thousands of Muslim women in the country who face discrimination and isolation. He also said in the Times article that the time had come to end "passive tolerance" leading to discrimination and added that language tests will now be taken into account in visa applications, the Associated Press reported.
“Last week, I chaired a meeting of a group of brilliant Muslim women role models. And while I heard great examples of so many women who are flourishing in our country, some painted an alarming picture of forced gender segregation, discrimination and social isolation from mainstream British life,” Cameron said in the Times article, cited by BBC.
He also said that it was time to be “more assertive about our liberal values, more clear about the expectations we place on those who come to live here and build our country together and more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers,” adding: “This is Britain. In this country, women and girls are free to choose how they live.”
Cameron reportedly added in the article that it was the responsibility of the refugees to better their language skills if they wanted to extend their stay in the country or apply for a permanent residence.
Cameron reiterated the new language plan during an interview on the “Today” show on BBC Radio 4 Monday, and said that it will be put in place in October 2016. He said the plan will apply to those who have entered the country recently on a spousal visa and added that those with poor English will be tested after two-and-a-half years. The ones who fail the test will not be guaranteed to stay in the UK, Cameron said in the interview.
"It is not just Muslim women. It is when people come under a spousal visa, because they are marrying someone who’s already here, that after two and a half years they should be improving their English. And we will be testing that," Cameron said in the interview, cited by the Guardian, adding: "We’re going to change the rules - you have to be able to speak a basic level of English now to be able to come into the country as a husband or a wife; we made that change already. And we are now going to toughen that up so half way through the five year spousal settlement program, two and a half years, there will be another opportunity to make sure that your English is improving. And you cannot guarantee that you will be able to stay if you are not improving your language."
Cameron was also asked if he supported women wearing a full-face veil in the country, to which he said that he opposed a ban on it because people should be free to wear what they want. However, he also supported the rights of schools and courts to impose “sensible” rules on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim group, said the British prime minister was “stereotyping” Muslims, according to the Guardian. CEO Mohammed Shafiq said in a statement: “David Cameron and his Conservative Government are once again using British Muslims as a political football to score cheap points to appear tough. There are three million Muslims in this country and the prime minister chooses to focus on a very small minority of extremists when clearly the majority of British Muslims reject extremism.”
Shafiq added: “The irony of the prime minister calling for more resources to help migrants learn English when his Government cut the funding for English classes in 2011 has not been lost on many people. This was a right-wing, neo-con prime minister delivering more of the same disgraceful stereotyping of British Muslims.”