David Cameron has been accused of “lazy and misguided” policy-making after he implied a poor grasp of English left Muslim women in the UK “more susceptible” to the inducement of extremism.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – a former Conservative chairman – clouted he was guilty of “stereotyping communities”.
The PM said he wanted to help women learn English to upgrade integration.
But he also suggested failing to learn English could sham people on spousal visas who wanted to settle in the UK.
The government says 22% of Muslim chars living in England speak little or no English – a factor it argues is helping to their isolation.
Mr Cameron has announced a £20m fund to provide English readings in homes, schools and community facilities. The money will be targeted at “fixed communities” identified by a review into segregation that is being regulated by Louise Casey, head of the government’s “troubled families” unit.
Talk to to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on lingo was “about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there’s sincere opportunity for people”.
He also said that while he accepted there was no “causal uniting” between poor English and extremism, a better grasp would grow into communities “more resilient” to threats of radicalisation from so-called Islamic Allege – or Daesh.
“If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, as a result, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be sundry susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh,” he thought.
Lady Warsi – who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister – welcomed the new wampum for language teaching, but told The World at One: “This lazy and misled linking, and what I saw once again as stereotyping of British Muslim communities, I perceive took away from what was a positive announcement.”
She went on: “I contrive it is lazy and sloppy when we start making policies based on stereotypes which do unspeakably stigmatise communities.”
New rules will mean that, from October, woman coming to the UK on five-year spousal visas will have to take a check up on half way through that period to show they are making energies to improve their English.
Asked what would happen to those who sank, Mr Cameron said: “They can’t guarantee that they’ll be clever to stay.”
He later ex nded, saying that if they were not start to be making progress after two-and-a-half years there would be no guarantee they disposition be able to “go to the full stage and retain their visa”.
The BBC’s political reporter Alex Forsyth said the government was absolutely not suggesting people could be deported if they fall through to reach the required level, but that language skills would be one rt taken into account when deciding whether to extend a man’s right to remain.
Lady Warsi said “threatening” women – notwithstanding those who have children in the UK – with being “sent back” was “a deeply unusual way of empowering and emboldening women”.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief foreman of the Ramadhan Foundation, accused Mr Cameron of “using British Muslims as a governmental football to score cheap points to appear tough”.
“There are three million Muslims in this rural area and the prime minister chooses to focus on a very small minority of extremists when unequivocally the majority of British Muslims reject extremism.”
Troubles arriving in the UK under a spousal visa are currently expected to have English skills at the internationally-recognised A1 beginner aim – roughly equivalent to a native-born child starting primary school.
Under the new rules, the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – smooth after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.
Shuja Shafi, secretary non-specific of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed the plans for language tuition but responded: “The prime minister’s aim to have English more widely verbal and for better integration falls at the first hurdle if he is to link it to security and singular out Muslim women to illustrate his point.”
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham pronounced Mr Cameron’s “clumsy and simplistic” approach was “unfairly stigmatising a whole community”.
“There is a veritable danger that it could end up driving further radicalisation, rather than tackling it.”