ATTEMPTS to link a lack of fluency in English with susceptibility to propaganda from the Isis death cult betray a fixation with scapegoat-seeking rather than community integration.
David Cameron takes care to admit that there is no “causal link,” but he knows that conjoining the two in a speech will encourage people to believe that there is.
Former minister Baroness Warsi’s condemnation of the Prime Minister’s approach as “lazy and misguided” is, if anything, too charitable.
As a former corporate PR man, Cameron understands how to create a public image while pretending to take a different stance and his Leeds speech was a prime example.
The PM insists that his intention is to unify society by integrating Muslims into it, but his highlighting of radicalisation and extremism in the context of some Muslim women’s inability to speak English well serves only to divide communities.
The tendency for some women to concentrate on home life and to socialise only with family or people from the same geographical and linguistic background was not invented by Muslim communities.
It has existed within, for example, some Indian or Greek Cypriot families, but that did not prevent these families’ children from being educated and fully integrated into social lives with their school friends and workmates.
The same applies to the children of Muslim families, as is self-evident wherever they have settled and grown up across Britain.
Where there have been difficulties the least credible explanation for it is that some Muslim women’s English is not up to scratch.
Assisting new citizens to improve their English and thereby help their education and employment prospects ought to be uncontroversial, yet Cameron’s government slashed spending on this essential area of public provision.
Apparently saving a paltry sum was more important to the Tories than risking what he now affects to see as a consequent risk of rampant extremism.
Better communication in English is in the interests of us all and free lessons should be universally available to achieve this.
Cameron’s thirst for pretexts to blame Muslim communities and families for the disturbing but marginal problem of hundreds of young people leaving Britain to join Islamic State (Isis) in Syria or Iraq is also whetted by his obsession with excusing Western imperialist wars for any role in increasing alienation.
While individuals bear full responsibility for their own actions, especially criminal deeds, politicians’ efforts to deny that murderous invasions of several Muslim states and support for Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinian people have been contributory factors cannot go unchallenged.
That belief is not confined to Muslims but to large sections of society as a whole and even arch-war criminal Tony Blair has accepted that a link exists.
Cameron’s readiness to visit mosques and discuss matters there is positive, but it will be viewed as another hollow PR gesture if he persists with his carrot-and-stick approach designed to placate his back-bench backwoodsmen.
What world is he living in if he believes that a veiled threat to deport people because of inadequate linguistic skills is a reasonable position?
Does he really imagine that breaking up a family on this flimsy pretext — a penalty imposed exclusively on Muslims — is the way to encourage national unity and cohesion?
It’s a nonsense and he knows it, but he feels the need to portray himself as tough to appeal to Islamophobic elements in the media and in his own party.
Until he accepts that this approach contradicts his proclaimed goal of a society at ease with itself, he and his party will be part of the problem not the solution.