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Muslim women in right-wing headlines again

Following the home secretary’s foot steps to appear tough, David Cameron’s suggestion of a correlation between the deficiency in English language and perceived extremism has been heavily criticised.

The damaging suggestion, part of the Cameron’s strategic announcement of the new £20 million fund*, primarily for Muslim women to learn English, is seen "using British Muslims as a political football to score cheap points to appear tough", as pointed out by Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation.

The timing of Mr Cameron's announcement is very interesting!

Could this “stereotyping of British Muslim communities”, as once again noted by Sayeeda Warsi, a former co-chairman of the Conservative party, be to please those displeased about lifting the trading sanctions on Iran?

Or could it be to remind Muslims as a problem to influence the outcome of the MPs debate on a petition, which has attracted 574,000 signatures, urging a ban on Mr Trump who called to ban Muslims from the US – as expected, the debate ended without a vote.

In any case, “Linking women in the Muslim community who struggle with the English language to home grown extremism only serves to isolate the very people Cameron says he is trying to help” warns Liberal Democrat leader Mr Farron.

Islamophobia is spreading across Europe and the US, fuelled by governments who wage war abroad and attack Muslims at home.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said the Prime Minister was “unfairly stigmatising a whole community”.

He said: "In his desire to grab easy headlines, David Cameron risks doing more harm than good. His clumsy and simplistic approach to challenging extremism is unfairly stigmatising a whole community. There is a real danger that it could end up driving further radicalisation, rather than tackling it”.

If Mr Cameron wanted to use the English language to assimilate non-European immigrants as it was tried in 1960s, why to single out Muslim women?

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the extra £20m for language classes targeted at migrant women did not make up for the £160m reduction in funds available for teaching English to migrants made between 2008 and 2015.

“Recent spending cuts have had an impact on the number of people learning English in our further education colleges, with approximately 2,000 fewer women attending Esol courses in the last year,” he said.

* This is a bit rich coming from a government which has cut funding for ESOL teaching   19/01/16

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